Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Timber Fetching Lower Prices Successful Harvest Creates Surplus

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Timber Fetching Lower Prices Successful Harvest Creates Surplus

Article excerpt

ALBANY, Ga. -- Droughts make work easy for tree harvesting crews, as the dry ground allows them to get into usually boggy areas and take out as much wood as they can sell.

Problem is, all that lumber has created a glut in the market. That surplus, combined with a slight slowdown recently in home building and renovations, has put timber prices at their lowest point in a decade, and experts say the market may not recover for three to five years.

Marshall Thomas, president of Albany-based F&W Forestry Services Inc., which has offices in eight Southern states, said the drought and recent market fluctuations have created a buyer's market for timber.

"The drought, now in its third year over much of the South, has created a virtually unlimited potential supply of timber available for harvest," he said.

As a result, prices for large pine sawtimber, used mostly for making lumber, dropped 6.7 percent in the first six months of the year, he said. The price for smaller pine sawtimber, known as chip-and-saw, dropped 8.1 percent, and pine pulpwood, which provides wood fiber for the pulp and paper industry, declined 5.7 percent, Thomas said.

The outlook for pulpwood is particularly bleak, according to industry officials.

Thomas said pulpwood prices have declined to about $35 per cord or less -- about the same price it sold for in 1990.

Thomas said the average landowner selling timber at the current prices would lose about $160 per acre.

Victor Beadles, a timber producer and owner of Beadles Lumber Co. in Moultrie, said low prices are hurting his business.

"The dry weather has had an effect," he said. "The woods have been in a condition where you could log almost anywhere. That's kept the mills fully supplied with raw material. The mills' production, due to a lot of technological improvements, has been high. We're suffering from somewhat overproduction."

IMPORTANT STATE CROP

Trees are an important part of the Southern economy, pumping $19.5 billion annually into the economy of Georgia alone, and provide 177,000 jobs.

Georgia is one of the nation's top pulp and paper producers, with timber its most valuable crop. …

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