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Appalachian Comments


Supplies of kiln dried Ash have steadily declined the last 30 to 45 days. This is largely a function of low sawmill production, exacerbated by shrinking timber availability due to the Emerald Ash Borer, as well as by log exports. That said, the recovery in Chinese purchasing is also contributing to improved Ash business. Domestic consumption of this species is holding at a relatively low level. Reported prices are rising and lift the kiln dried 4/4 and 5/4 #2A&Btr listings and ranges, along with the 6/4 and 8/4 #1C and #2A figures. Sawmills are having little difficulty moving developing green #2A&Btr Ash output. Many have been able to bump up prices, as reflected in increases of $15 for #1C and $10 for #2A across all published thicknesses.


Market conditions for this species are not great, but they are moving in a positive direction. Distributors and end users in the key Chinese market are purchasing larger volumes to both support ongoing demand and hedge against potential shortages. In North America, demand is somewhat improved, albeit from a low level. Although Cherry is providing sawmills better returns than a short time ago, most producers are prioritizing other species, like Red Oak and White Oak. Consequently, Cherry production remains relatively low, lending support to pricing. The green 4/4 through 8/4 Fas&1f listings climb $20 in both areas, with North Central 4/4 through 8/4 #1C up $15. Additionally, the listings and most of the ranges are raised for all kiln dried items except Appalachian 4/4 #2A.


Sawmills and downstream sales operations report solid business for this species. In fact, demand for most items is outpacing supply. Green Hickory shipments to residential flooring factories are brisk, yet several plants would like to receive more. The same is true for yards that dry and export the species. All the green listings are raised $20 on higher reported prices. Niche producers of plank flooring are assertively purchasing kiln dried Hickory, and demand is steady from cabinet and millwork companies. At the same time, Hickory exports to Mexico have been quite good. The 4/4 #2A&Btr listings and noted ranges are increased to better reflect observed pricing.


There is a variety of markets for Hard Maple, although the cabinet and cabinet component sectors tend to stand above the others. At present, sales contacts report robust demand from the cabinet industry. Shipments are also climbing to distribution yards that supply smaller cabinet shops. Sawmills and drying operations are trying to produce more Hard Maple, but supplies are tight, and prices are being pressured higher. Information lifts the green #1&2 White 4/4 Fas&1f listings $25. The 4/4 #1C listings rise $10 for both color classifications, as do the Unselected 4/4 #2A and #3A figures. Additionally, the listings and noted range numbers advance for kiln dried 4/4 #2A&Btr and 5/4 through 8/4 #1C in both color classifications.


This species has not gained as much market momentum as some others, but demand is good. Consumption by cabinet and wood component plants is increasing, which has exposed shortages in certain areas, primarily in the #1C&Btr grades. End users in other sectors are consistently buying Soft Maple, and distribution yards have increased purchases. Prior bumps have most of the published green and kiln dried figures in order. However, the kiln dried Sap&Btr 6/4 and 8/4 Fas listings and ranges warrant increases in this issue.

#2A&3A OAK

Demand for wood residential flooring is quite good, and some manufacturers indicate they are losing potential sales for lack of finished goods inventory. As such, plants are operating at or near capacity and are showing considerable urgency with green #2A&3A Red and White Oak purchases needed to sustain production. Truck trailer flooring factories are also trying to bolster lumber receipts, with mixed results. Competition for developing supplies of green #2A&3A is most intense in the eastern half of the region. Mills are commanding higher prices on new orders. The 4/4 through 8/4 #2A&3A Red Oak, 4/4 #2A Alone Red Oak, and 4/4 through 6/4 #2A&3A White Oak listings climb $15.


Markets for green Red Oak are energized, with 4/4 #3A&Btr drawing the most interest from buyers. Concentration yards are expanding purchases to the extent possible in hopes of capitalizing on solid demand and rising prices for kiln dried material. Similarly, residential and truck trailer flooring manufacturers are clamoring for more #2A&3A Red Oak to meet strong to rising demand for finished goods; they are also buying more #1C to supplement receipts. Prices continue to climb. The listings advance $20 for 5/4 and 6/4 Fas&1f, and $15 for 4/4 through 8/4 #2A&3A and 4/4 #2A Alone Red Oak. Domestic demand for kiln dried Red Oak is holding at a decent level. Meanwhile, Red Oak exports are brisk to China, increasing to Vietnam, and steady to most other foreign destinations. All the published Fas figures are in order for now. However, information lifts the 5/4 #1C, 8/4 #1C, and 4/4, 5/4, and 8/4 #2A listings and noted ranges.


With sawmill production still low, exporters indicate that sales of White Oak are limited more by supply than demand. Supply strains are affecting business for all grades, though especially for Fas. While overseas exports are a substantial portion of total business for kiln dried White Oak, demand within North America is good. Reported prices warrant increases to all of the listings and most of the ranges this week. Yards, flooring plants, and other buyers are struggling to procure adequate volumes of green White Oak. Shortages are the rule, and prices continue to climb. The #3A&Btr listings are raised $20 for Fas&1f and $15 for the common grades across all thicknesses. Like moves are made to the green WHND listings.


Domestic and international markets for this species are busy. Sawmills are readily moving all the green #2A&Btr Poplar they are producing, and #2B is much easier to sell because the pallet sector has recovered. Transactions show additional price firming that lifts the 4/4 through 16/4 #1C&Btr listings $15 for Fas&1f and $10 for #1C. Distributors and end users in the US, Vietnam, China, and Mexico are actively engaging with kiln dried Poplar suppliers. Prices have risen significantly the last couple of months, and the published figures have been adjusted accordingly. Only the 4/4 #1C and #2A listings and top side range numbers advance this week.


Demand for Walnut is strong, and supplies are not keeping up. Area sawmills would like to have more Walnut logs to saw; yards would like more green lumber to dry for future sale; and many distributors and end users would welcome additional kiln dried Walnut if available. Chinese markets are also energized. Green and kiln dried prices have been surging, but most of the listings and ranges are in order for now. In this issue, information raises the green 6/4 and 8/4 Fas&1f listings $30 and warrants increases to the high sides of the kiln dried 4/4 #1C ranges and the 6/4 Fas listings.


Sawmills and resellers are having little or no difficulty selling Poplar and Mixed Species framestock. The same cannot be said of Oak framestock, although it is moving a bit better. Prices in observed transactions are steady.

Wood pallet and container manufacturers are busy and assertively purchasing hardwood cants and pallet lumber. In response, sawmills are cutting more cants when returns compare favorably to sawing lumber or other industrial items. The cant listing and range increased last week and warrant no further adjustments at this time.

Reports on crosstie business are mixed. Almost two thirds of surveyed Appalachian sawmill operators describe demand as good. However, some mills are on stricter shipping quotas, and a few are having difficulty generating orders. Prices observed in the market are also mixed, but most are within the respective ranges.

Unfavorable weather for construction is compounding a general scarcity of energy infrastructure projects to keep board road sales depressed. Most Appalachian sawmills are avoiding board road production. Reported prices warrant no further changes to the listing or range this week.