Timber Market Outlook
By Dr. James Henderson, Extension Forestry
Slowly but surely markets for sawtimber are beginning to grow again after the sharp declines seen after the collapse of the U.S. housing market and recession. The Southern Forest Products Association reported southern pine lumber shipments for 2013 reached 15.026 billion board feet (Bbf) which is a 5% increase over the 2012 amount of 14.279 Bbf and a 27% increase over the 2009 volume of 11.279 Bbf. U.S. home construction continues to rise and the forecast is for continued growth. In 2009 the U.S. built about 554 thousand new homes and the forecast is that the U.S. should be building nearly 3 times that volume by 2015. So we are on pace for over 1 million homes built in 2014 and around 1.5 million in 2015. The overall U.S. economy is continuing to grow and recovering from the recession of the 2000's. Reflecting these improvements in lumber demand the south-wide 4th quarter average stumpage price for pine sawtimber was up 8% from this time last year according to Timber-Mart South. Mississippi stumpage prices as of the 4th quarter 2013 statewide averaged at $24 for pine sawtimber, $15 for pine chip-n-saw, $36 for mixed hardwood sawtimber, $9 for pine pulpwood, and $11 for hardwood pulpwood. Timber price reports for Mississippi are available at: MSUCares.com/forestry. Pulpwood markets in north Mississippi will obviously be disrupted by the closure of the IP paper mill in Courtland, Alabama. It is reasonable to assume that prices for pulpwood in some portions of north Mississippi will fall in 2014 as compared with 2013. So the outlook for Mississippi's timber markets are somewhat mixed. Sawtimber should show continued gains over the next several years and pulpwood in northern Mississippi may struggle as compared with previous years.
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