Time to dust off your management plan? Log prices & trends

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

We are coming up on spring and that means summer is just around the corner. If you are thinking about a harvest this summer, it is time to take your management plan off the shelf and review your goals. How will this harvest help you meet your management goals? What are the things you’ll need to get started on now to be ready?  Following the market and log prices is one of them.

While inventories at the mills seem to be comfortable, the little bit of late snow has log buyers actively looking for wood right now in order to keep those inventories up. While prices aren’t where they were last winter, they are certainly good and on par with past years and are expected to hold steady for a while.   Douglas-fir prices are currently sitting in the $800-$900/mbf range depending on what you’ve got. Big logs are selling for more right now, when usually it’s the smaller logs that claim a higher price.  

Figure 1. Douglas-fir saw log price averages over the last two years. © Lauren Grand, OSU Extension

The pulp mills in the Columbia River area are taking some down time and it is rippling down to us. We are seeing chips down about $10 this quarter at $40/ton. While down isn’t a word you want to hear as a seller, this price is still about double what I usually report.

The white woods (spruce, hemlock, grand and white fir) have been getting more and more difficult to sell. Much of this wood made its way to China, but that market is weak right now, though I hear rumors of it starting to bounce back  a bit. Prices are still less than desirable, but if you can find a buyer in the Eugene area prices are around $450-$500/mbf. Demand in Douglas County is a bit better, and prices are a little bit higher between $500 and $600/mbf.

Alder prices have dropped off quite a bit since our last report. Demand seems to be falling dramatically and mills are running on reduced schedules. Hopefully the market will improve soon. Larger alder logs are in the $550 range for the 10-12-inchers and the $400 – $500 for the 6-8-inchers.

Redcedar prices are down a bit from last quarter and buyers are offering $1000/mbf in the Eugene area. Incense-cedar in the Eugene area has come up a bit and are now $50 -$100 dollars more than last quarter and sitting at $650-$700/mbf with usually about a $100/mbf more in the Douglas County area.

Poles are also in high demand and prices are strong if you got ‘em. Pole buyers are always willing to walk around the property with you to check things out. Shorter Doulas-fir poles are in higher demand at the moment and are around $1000-$1075/mbf and longer poles are fetching $1250/mbf.

The Japanese export markets are finally seeing a reduction and are likely to continue downward. Prices are now in the $780-$940/mbf range. Remember to configure in trucking to the ports. If you are too far, those prices might not be worth it.

The lumber market isn’t as vibrant as it was, but prices aren’t too bad. With spring on its way lumber and housing starts might be on their way up a bit since housing stocks are still low, but all that is to be seen.  While you wait for the right time to sell your wood. Make sure you are communicating with your foresters, loggers, and log buyers so that you can jump when the time is right. Good luck and always remember to get your purchase order before you cut!

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