This post includes data from the Q1 2015 Forisk Research Quarterly (FRQ) chapter on U.S. North hardwood markets.
The old joke, “Why did the sawmill owner sell his mill? Because he was board,” does not apply to hardwood lumber operations. U.S. hardwood lumber production and consumption continues to accelerate. Total hardwood lumber supplies, including imports, increased 19.0% in 2014 after increasing 13.2% in 2013. Of the total volume available in the United States in 2014, U.S. producers accounted for 94.6%. Yowza!
To support quarterly hardwood log forecasts, Forisk tracks and studies three multi-state hardwood markets (regions) in the U.S. North (see map).
Forisk Research Coverage for the U.S. North
Source: Q1 2015 Forisk Research Quarterly
These markets, in total, have at least 421 open hardwood lumber mills that average less than 5 million board feet in annual production each. Yet these markets have distinct profiles with respect to core species, pricing and mills. For example:
- The Lake States region has the largest number of mills, and the highest percent of cottonwood and aspen hardwood forest inventories. In 2014, red oak, maple and yellow birch logs traded at five-year highs.
- In comparison, the Middle Atlantic region has the most hardwood sawmill capacity (and a larger average mill size). Soft maple, red oak and hard maple account for nearly half of the total hardwood forest inventory on timberland. In 2014, hard maple traded near its five-year high.
- New England, on the other hand, has the smallest hardwood sawmill market and largest wood bioenergy market of the three. Soft maple, red oak and hard maple account for more than half of the hardwood inventory. In 2014, red oak, hard maple and ash traded near five-year highs.