By Lauren Grand, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent – Lane County
Well this is my first log prices and trends report of hopefully many. In our last newsletter Treeman reported:
“the spring report is my favorite because of the old “hope springs eternal:” this is the year we’re gonna make-it. This will be the summer when prices are at their zenith versus nadir … come-on-baby let the good times roll!” Then he went on to say “Bad news: while things are looking pretty good at the moment, nothing lasts through the summer.”
Well by golly let’s turn that bad news into good because we are rolling. Prices held out and have slowly risen for the first summer that anyone can remember. Fire season in BC and this stint of hot weather has fewer logs at the mill and they are buying.
Doug-fir has been steadily rising for the past few months and it looks as if it’ll remain at $725-750 at least beyond the time you’re reading this report. We’ve seen values at $775/MBF at select mills and a person could still garner this kind of money with a little more volume and a better-quality 2 saw. The further north you go, the better the prices, but not at levels the average landowner could recover trucking. Like we say: there’s an excellent chance the closest mill will be the best mill.
Export values are basically on-par with domestic prices, but remember, you need long-logs and somewhat larger diameter requirements. The 2 saw type log is the one folks are seeking and it is tough for them to compete with local mills unless you are within 50 miles of the docks trucking will trump any increase in value.
Whitewoods are also in demand. While their values are significantly lower than their Df counterparts they are also up a bit from last quarter with values in the higher end of the mid-$500 range. And remember, the large diameter hemlock/grand fir is in less demand than the 6-11 inch log. And while we’re bottom-trolling here, chips remain steadily below $30/ton, so stand improvement will likely remain a below-cost operation. Don’t forget some fiber mills are actively looking for hardwoods chips too and they are competitively priced with conifer chips.
Speaking of hardwoods, alder, maple, and ash are actively being sought after by hardwood mills. At the time of this report alder is competitive with fir prices. While maple and ash don’t bring in as much as alder, their prices have remained strong and consistent.
Incense cedar prices remain steady in the high 600 to low 700 range for a 12” long log and $100 less for under 12.” Douglas County is the final destination for much of the incense in the area. Sellers can also opt for a sort yard in the mid part of the valley. The decision then becomes pretty site specific, with trucking being the deciding factor.
You cannot say that for redcedar. Mills south of here are buying redcedar, but values are less and trucking is nearly as much as if you were hauling to northern destinations. Like Doug-fir, the further north you go, the better the prices. Sort yards here in the Valley are paying over $1500/MBF for long logs. That is almost $200 higher than our last report. Redcedar is worth some bucks, but all in due time will the possibility come for incense cedar to replace redcedar at the mill if values get too high. No one can say for sure, but what we do know is there is a ceiling for any commodity. We witnessed this when eastern birch replaced red alder some years back. We’re now seeing this in fencing boards with incense and Doug-fir now being made available in-place of redcedar.
Occasionally, folks request valley pine prices. While Ponderosa pine isn’t known for bringing in the big bucks it is teetering around $400. That’s up about $100 from the August 2016 report. However, you do have to go to Roseburg or Medford to sell it. Depending on where you are, if you do your own logging, you might make a few bucks.
Prices and trends for this summer are higher than they have been in over 15 years. The recent past has seen Doug-fir values reach their peak in late January or February, then take a precipitous decline to fairly stable summer values as more sellers enter the market. However, this year has been different. As I look into my no-so-crystal ball, I expect prices will stay strong for at least the immediate future as we enter into fire season. But, don’t let that stop you. If you are considering a harvest and you can find an available operator and trucker then act while you can, we cannot guarantee how long it will last. Good luck and always remember to get your purchase order before you cut!