Winter Timber Sale

Weather impacts harvested wood volumes in first quarter of 2023

Weather and temperatures were higher than past years, limiting good ground for conducting harvests, FDN data showed

Image courtesy of Couleur from Pixabay

MADISON, Wis. -- Temperatures in the Lake States in the first quarter of 2023 were perhaps more of the focus for the log and cordwood markets rather than pricing, according to the latest pricing data from Forest Data Network.

Volumes of wood sold reported to Forest Data Network were down dramatically from 2022 and from past years’ first quarters —- just as average temperatures were dramatically higher in 2023, limiting good ground for logging.

With many days having high temperatures well above freezing in the quarter throughout the northern regions of the Lake States, winter often seemed to be less wintry than normal. In the Wausau area, the daily high temperature was only below freezing on nine days in February. Meanwhile, in Cheboygan, Michigan the average daily high temperature in January was 12 degrees above the normal average for the corresponding date.

This weather pattern across the Lake States resulted in reported harvest volumes that were 20 to 50% lower than from the first quarter of last year. Wisconsin volumes were affected most dramatically, with volume for some species down by 50% or more from the prior year.

Stumpage prices in Michigan were stronger than their counterparts in Minnesota, and particularly in Wisconsin. Michigan showed good cord prices for pine and logging activity was somewhat more robust.

But generally volumes and prices reflected the slowing demand from a weaker housing market than in 2022, as building permit applications declined for single family homes. (This was partially offset by increasing applications for multifamily apartment buildings.)

Some lesser volume wood species were winners for landowners’ harvests, including basswood, which showed favorable prices in Michigan and Wisconsin.

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