Southeast Business Hardwood Lumber Trends – February 2024

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Throughout the Southeast region hardwood lumber trends sources agreed that their markets are rather quiet, at the time of this writing. One source noted that while his sales are slow, he has started to receive more inquiries out of Asia than expected.

In North Carolina, a sawmill representative said that his sales have been slower than they were six months ago aside from an uptick in inquiries from Asia. He noted that for his domestic sales it is most likely due to the time of year that has caused a slowdown.

His company offers Red and White Oak and Poplar, in all NHLA grades and in thicknesses of 4/4 through 8/4. “White Oak is selling best for us right now,” he stated. He mentioned that White Oak is likely selling better due in part to the stave mills looking to buy lower grade logs which in turn affects the regular random width and random length markets.

He primarily sells to flooring, furniture and millwork manufacturers. “Domestically, everyone is getting quiet, and my customers are trying to lower their inventories,” he said.

A Georgia lumberman said that for him Red and White Oak are selling well, while he isn’t able to put a finger on why Poplar is selling the way it is for him. “I’ve been able to move Poplar in grades No. 1 and 2 Common in 4/4 thickness out of one of my mills, while out of another I am sold out of it in No. 2 Common in 6/4 thickness and have No. 1 Common in 6/4 thickness just sitting,” he said.

He noted that he believes his sales are about the same as they were six months ago. “Business is just OK, it’s not horrible, but it’s certainly not the best.”

He sells to American exporters, flooring manufacturers and distribution yards. “Everything that happens this time of year, you have to take it with a grain of salt,” he remarked.

In Kentucky, a lumber spokesperson said that while this is a historically slower time of year he has noticed a certain air of caution in the wind surrounding the market uncertainty that comes with the first quarter of the year. “There are still supply shortages out there in the market, while demand is continuing to contract,” he noted.

His company’s top three species are Red and White Oak and Poplar, while they also offer Hard and Soft Maple and Hickory, as well as a small amount of Walnut and Cherry. They offer these species in 4/4 and 5/4 thicknesses and in all grades with a focus on No. 1 and Better. “While No. 1 and Better is my focus, I certainly get a tremendous amount of No. 2 Common. I don’t dry any of my No. 2 Common, expect for my Walnut. I did unfortunately have to dry all of my Soft Maple once that market died off, and now it is all just sitting,” he added.

“Our White Oak production is down 50 percent from what it was last year, which is due to the incredible demand from the stave mills,” he said. “Staves can’t seem to be manufactured fast enough and the production can’t be high enough for the bourbon industry.” He noted that White Oak used to be neck and neck for the specie that his company produced the most of year over year.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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