We’ve got a good feeling: Logs & Non-timber Forest Products – Prices & Trends

By Lauren Grand, OSU Extension Forestry & Natural Resources, Lane County

It is winter and we are on the heels of spring which means we’ve got a good feeling about log prices. Wet weather means timber is less accessible and fewer logs make it out of the woods. As a result, prices tend to increase. This year is par for the course. Prices are up or holding steady across the board from last quarter.

Douglas-fir prices are currently sitting around $725/mbf for 2mill, $675/mbf for 8-11 inch, and $625/mbf for the 5-7 inchers at the small end for long logs. These numbers are looking better than where they were last year. Rumors are buzzing that prices are likely to stay strong and possibly increase as we move into spring. Maybe things are starting to normalize since the last three years have been so unpredictable.

Usually I don’t have much good to say about chips, but even the chip market is looking better than it previously has. Compared to recent years, this winter was fairly mild. Maybe we’ve finely made it through all that inventory from the ice, snow, and drought? Shop around for prices, I’m hearing a range from $30 – $50 per ton.

The Hem-fir sorts (spruce, hemlock, grand fir, and white fir) are almost $100 higher than what we reported last quarter. The long logs are up to $475 per thousand in Eugene. Roseburg’s prices are slightly higher ranging from $475 – $525.

Pine prices in the southwest are holding steady around $400/mbf. If you are selling pine, consider your trucking distance. At these prices, if you have to move it too far, you may be losing money instead of making it. For those of you in the Eugene area, there is now an outfit that buys pine locally, so call around before trucking it down south.

Typically, trends in the alder market follow Douglas-fir, but more recently things have been slowing down and flattening out. Unfortunately, production in many mills has slowed down with lower demand for raw wood furnishings in homes. Luckily, prices have stayed steady from last quarter. Alder prices range between $400 and $600/MBF for the 7” and up sorts. Prices increase as diameter increases.

Incense-cedar and redcedar prices are holding pretty steady with a slight increase from the last report. Current values of incense-cedar in the south valley are running close to $650 for long logs. Incense-cedar in Douglas County is usually purchased at slightly higher values, in the $750 range. Western redcedar prices are having a little bit of a comeback and prices are up $100 from last quarter and are at $900/MBF for a long-log. Short-log values decline by another $100-$200 depending on the length. Port Orford cedar prices are holding steady in the $500 range.

Last but not least – non-timber forest products. Oregon grape and usnea lichen are still the prime species for small woodland owners to harvest, and purchasers are gearing up to start buying these in the spring. Oregon grape is $0.75/lb green and clean, while usnea lichen is $5.50/lb clean. Spring time is also when the floral industry is looking to contract for floral greens to go in table and flowerpot displays. Floral green species that are desired include salal, ferns, and beargrass. If you are interested in doing floral greens for Christmas and Christmas trees, remember that your contracts should be drawn up by July, so start working on those relationships now. 

The remaining part of winter and the upcoming spring are shaping up to be great. Prices and trends for this winter are higher than they were last year and feelings about the market are generally positive. The recent past has seen Doug-fir values reach their peak in the spring, then take a precipitous decline to fairly stable summer values as more sellers enter the market. As I look into my no-so-crystal ball, I expect prices will stay strong for at least the immediate future as we march further into the wet season. Good luck and always remember to get your purchase order before you cut!

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