Can you hear that buzz? Log and non-timber forest prices & trends

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

Prices skyrocketed last month with Douglas-fir peaking at $1650 per thousand board feet in the Eugene/Springfield area. Did your mouth just fall open? Mine did! That is an amazing price. With recent lumber prices 43% higher than the 5 year average, high log prices make sense. But, lumber isn’t the only thing driving this increase. Do you remember sitting in your living room in December thinking, “Please!! Not another snow storm so soon!?” Well THANK YOU la Nina weather. The snow and rain slowed operations and caught mills with lower than ideal inventories. Once all the snow melted, mills made a run to bring inventories back up. Before you knew it, purchase orders were being distributed like hot cakes and prices were rising. Now that wood is filling back up at the mills, prices are starting to come back down, but things are still looking mighty good for the time being.

New purchase orders for Douglas-fir could fetch you anywhere in the $800-1100/mbf range. Lower than prices you saw last month as more wood comes on the scene, but still GREAT prices. Chips haven’t been exciting in the recent past, but conifer chips are almost double what I usually report. You can find chip prices in the $40/ton range at the moment. Usually we see chip prices come down when log prices go up, but not today!

The Hem-fir sorts (spruce, hemlock, grand and white fir) are looking a little stronger with some domestic mills buying more. I’m hearing prices in the $600 – $650/mbf range.

The alder market continues to be pretty good. Alder is sitting in the $500 – $700 /mbf range depending on size. The twelve inchers are in the upper range and the eight inchers are in the lower range.  

Redcedar prices are down a bit from my last report. Prices in the Eugene area are around $1150/mbf for long logs and $850-$950/mbf for the shorter logs depending on length. Douglas County is not far behind at $900/mbf. Incense-cedar on the other hand is holding steady. If you are in the Eugene area you are looking at $600/mbf and $650/mbf in Douglas County area. Port-Orford-cedar prices vary quite a bit from $400 – $600/mbf depending on small end diameter.  

Pole buyers can’t help but pay higher prices in order to stay competitive with those high sawlog prices. Short and long poles are being sought after. Poles range in length between 35 ft and 130 ft.  The short poles are in the $1100-$1200/mbf and the long poles are fetching $1250 – $1400 through the end of the month.

Now that Christmas is over, the non-timber forest products game is back to the ol’ standbys. Oregon grape is $0.75/lb and teasel root cleaned with no green is @2.80/lb. Usnea lichen, bareberry and pipsisewa are also of interest.  Cascara bark will be in season in just a couple of months and will be going for $1.25/lb potato chip dry.

Sawlog prices are a buzz this quarter and log buyers are optimistic for the future. It would be too cruel to drop prices too low after this great run. The only problem that now remains is getting the logs, poles, and chips to the right place. Finding truck drivers has be difficult to say the least.  Who wants to be a log truck driver? New career anyone? I think you’d find clients quickly. Ok I’ve hit my silliness quota for the day.

Now, I know that many small landowners don’t have rock on their roads, so it is difficult to take advantage of those higher prices. If your roads are dirt, take the time to evaluate your management plan and start thinking about next year. The more prepared you are the easier the process and the more quickly you can jump on another price increase. If you do have rocked roads, call around to see if anyone is offering purchases orders that work for you and your wood. Prices will likely come down a bit as we move into summer. Good luck and always remember to get your purchase order before you cut!

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