Recovering Housing Market Combined With Wet Weather Offer Promise of Better Timber Markets

Timber stumpage prices were stable to declining across most timber growing regions in the third quarter but all signs point to a continuing—if sputtering—recovery ahead, the head of one of the nation’s largest forestry management firms reports.

Marshall Thomas, president of F&W Forestry Services that operates across the southern pine belt as well as the central and northeast forested regions of the U.S., said lumber prices dropped and sawtimber prices held fairly steady despite significant year-to-year increases in housing starts and wetter than normal weather across the South.

“But hope springs eternal, and it seems that the slow but steady increase in housing starts and the likely continuation of wet weather through the winter should put continuing upward pressure on prices over the next year or so,” Thomas said.

Thomas noted that while El Nino conditions should help bump up timber prices this coming winter, there are other factors at play that could have a negative impact on timber markets, including the expiration of the U.S.-Canadian Softwood Lumber Agreement, softening demand for lumber/log exports, and the strengthening U.S. dollar.

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