Spring has sprung, but log prices haven’t: Logs and Non-timber Forest Products – Prices & Trends

By Lauren Grand, OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent, Lane County

Spring is here, but where are our log prices?  Time for everyone to start wondering what logs are going to do this year. Typically prices start to rise after the new year and peak in the Late March early April before starting their decent into the summer prices. A little over a year ago, the domestic Douglas-fir market went crazy and anyone who was prepared with a management or harvest plan was able to capitalize early and rode that ship into financial felicity.

Does lightning strike twice? There are exceptions to any rule or saying, but in this case, it looks like the market is taking it easy. That’s not to say log values, both domestic and export, have turned sharply downwards, we’re merely saying that market “spike” in values last summer and spring was just that!

But the past is the past, so let’s look for today, and what might be on the horizon. The local mills seem to have a good volume of logs in their yards and lumber prices are still below average. Typically, the market is thriving this time of year in anticipation of building season. All this snow and rain has been holding some volume back to see a small increase in prices last month, but nothing substantial. Really it’s all the snow and rain around the country that has been keeping people from buying lumber and creating demand in the market.

So for now, look at Douglas-fir, long logs to bring at least $650 at the local mills. Doug-fir domestic demand is strong enough to be competitive with export prices in the mid-700s.  Now it will all come down to your location in relation to the mill or the dock.  Chips, however, are in high abundance and are sitting around $40/ton.

Red alder, logs and pulp logs are in abundant supply and the alder lumber market is wakened from the China tariffs. This has caused prices to decrease lower than we’ve seen in a few years. With all the damage in the snow storm this year the oversupply will likely rise. Alder is over $600/MBF for the 8” and up sorts. More realistic log sizes/values shows values as low as $80/ton and $400 for 6” and 7” logs.

Incense cedar values in Douglas County mills are running close to $800 for long logs at 8”+. Drop down to the 6” – 7” log and you’ll see values about $25/MBF less. Short logs come down further depending on diameter. Incense is being purchased in the valley, but at lower values than Douglas County roughly in conjunction with the cost of trucking it to the Roseburg mills. Again, incense is in demand. For those of you interested in Port-Orford-Cedar in the Douglas County area, prices range from $550-$600.

Western redcedar prices are still lower than they have been in the recent past in the south valley and are holding at $850/MBF for long-log cedar and $50 less in Roseburg.  Short log values decline by another $100-$200 depending on the length. Redcedar demand isn’t what it has been because the mills have a good inventory at the moment.

Ponderosa pint isn’t making the comeback of the century, but if your property is close enough to SW OR then you might find the price of just over $400 mbf worth it. I wasn’t able to get a price for the valley crowd, but if I had to guess I’d say it was slightly less to make up for the new tariffs and sending it to coos bay.

In the non-timber forest products world, Oregon grape and usnea lichen are sun setting and pipsissewa (prince’s pine) and cascara are on the rise. I also been hearing that morels are out and bountiful.

Well that’s all we got for you this time folks, you can tell things are mostly in a holding period until we find out what the rest of this wacky spring weather will bring. If you are looking out your window and seeing snow damage as far as the eye can see. Start talking to your consultants or loggers now to get in the queue. It will likely be a busy summer.

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