Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on May 8, 1998. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
State's Timber Market Rewards Landowners
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Low log inventories around the state last winter kept timber prices high, and landowners continue to respond by bringing more to market.
Dr. Bob Daniels, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said wet weather was a key factor in log inventories this winter.
"Rainy weather kept logging and transportation operations difficult from late October through February, especially in Central and South Mississippi," Daniels said.
Pine sawtimber prices reached record highs statewide in January and February, with averages ranging from $484 per thousand board feet in South Mississippi to $420 in the Delta. Average prices 10 percent higher than January 1997 prompted many landowners to sell their timber now.
"Apparently landowners reacted to the high year-end prices and brought more timber to market," Daniels said. "Many pine mills had lower than desired log inventories due to the rainy weather and were competing strongly for tracts of good timber that could be logged immediately."
Pulpwood and paper production were steady through January, with pulpwood in demand. Standing pine pulpwood in January and February averaged a high of $44 in South Mississippi and a low of $27 in the Delta.
Hardwood pulpwood had a statewide average of $25.50 per cord, a 43 percent increase from last January. Oak sawtimber moved higher to average $331 per thousand board feet, a 31 increase from January 1997. Prices for mixed hardwood held steady through winter.
"Once the winter is behind, prices can be expected to moderate as they always do," Daniels said. "Usually prices trend down and bottom in mid-summer, then move up in the fall. Indicators in early May are that prices have begun to moderate, as buyers know it's likely to get drier as time goes on."
Michael Halfacre, president of Timberland Consulting, Inc., in Louisville, said recent dry weather has increased mill inventories and decreased current demand for pulpwood.
"Pulpwood prices have slipped, but were at record highs in the winter," Halfacre said.
A few years of high timber market conditions have allowed many state loggers to upgrade their operations with highly mechanized and better equipment, Halfacre said.
"This makes them highly productive," he said. "Where it used to take several weeks of pretty weather to build inventories, now they can build up the inventories very quickly."
Mickey Webb, president of Webb Forestry Consultants in Columbia, said pine sawtimber in South Mississippi sold as high as $650 per thousand board feet last winter. Pine chip and saw logs sold as high as $150 a cord, and pine pulpwood hit $25 a ton.
Going in to the summer, prices have slipped some but are still great. Webb advises clients to sell wet-natured land, but hold on to land that can be worked in the winter.
"They don't have a lot to lose by waiting to sell, and there is the potential to pick up another 20 percent on price," Webb said.
The Mississippi Timber Report prices are available on the Internet through the Extension Service's web site at http://www.ext.msstate.edu/anr/forestry.