Storms decimate pricing across state in latest reports, as damaged wood floods markets

Certain species are seeing drops by as much as 80% in areas of the state

MADISON, Wis. -- A flood of wood from storm salvage harvests had a dramatic, but geographically narrow impact on Wisconsin’s third quarter sawlog and cordwood index prices compiled by Forest Data Network. Some prices showed huge drops after the tornadoes in late July, but these price declines were limited to three regions in the state and to specific species.

In those three regions, species impacted by large salvage operations showed price decreases of 60-95% from prices prior to the storms.

A number of private and public sellers have reported delaying sales due to market price drops, and there are likely many other sellers who have also decided against a harvest because of the impacts.

Please click on the following Regions to purchase specific dramatic regional price decreases:

North Lakes (Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln and Oneida Counties)

Mississippi River (Barron, Buffalo, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix and Trempeleau Counties)

West Green Bay (Marinette, Menominee, Oconto counties)

(To see the full list of regions and the statewide report, please click here:

The most affected species by price changes were red and white pine cordwood in the North Lakes Region. Foresters rushed to harvest damaged pine to forestall infestation by pine beetles. Oak logs harvested in the Mississippi River Region also showed dramatic declines.

While the storm damaged wood affected prices in three regions in particular species, other index prices were quite healthy throughout the state.

Ash sawlog index prices increased throughout the state by anywhere from 11 to 25 percent, according to FDN’s latest reports (based on hundreds of private and public transactions throughout the year).

(The supply of healthy ash trees has been affected by the emerald ash borer infestation, limiting supply and raising prices.)

Other species showed strong regional differences in prices and trends. For instance, maple showed stumpage prices ranging from $179/mbf up to $319/mbf. Prices trended higher in Northern regions of the state.

Pine cordwood did well throughout the state except in the North Lakes Region, where post-storm prices lowered the average from over $40 per cord to less than $3.

Broader impacts of the storm prices will show up in prices for the fourth quarter. Some predictions are that some species’ pricing won’t recover from the recent storms for years. There was insufficient time available to plan and carry out most harvests prior to the Sept. 30 quarter’s end.

Annual subscriptions for Wisconsin regions and 16 species can be ordered for as little as $29.95. (Sub-species prices for maple, oak and pine are also included.) There are new third quarter reports in these regions: Chippewa, Northwest Territory, North Lakes, Mississippi River, Black River, West Green Bay, Wisconsin River. All 13 regions will have new reports in January.

Earlier storm coverage

RHINELANDER, Wis. -- A flood of salvage cord wood and logs is having a dramatic impact on timber prices, with some prices in areas directly affected by the storms reduced by more than two thirds, according to Forest Data Network pricing data and state forestry officials.

Post-storm harvests showed price decreases in red oak logs of 75-80% in comparison to harvests earlier in the year in Langlade County, according to recent FDN data reports. The drops were equally severe in aspen and mixed hardwood. Cordwood showed similar declines in that count.

Forest Data Network has gathered index prices in all areas affected by the storms. To subscribe to future reports in your area click here.

With a “challenging” biomass market and “soft” pine log prices, it will be hard to move wood, particularly near the counties most affected by storms, according to DNR foresters who provided a storm update at the Wisconsin County Forests Association meeting in Rhinelander on Sept. 27.

Red pine prices were beginning to show slight improvement prior to the storms, according to Alex Anderson, DNR Forest Products Specialist. In contrast the market for some low value products like railroad ties and cants are improving. These markets are more suitable for salvage wood, Anderson noted. The dramatic drop in prices is due to a flood of supply, plus concerns about unseen damage to the wood.

The storms’ main impacts were in Barron, Langlade, Polk, Portage, Oconto and Wood counties.

Areas hit directly by the storms, like Langlade County, saw a “substantial loss,” reported Erik Rantala, Langlade County forest administrator. “I’m not sure people understand the full impact of this yet,” Rentala said. A Polk County forester noted that a 237-acre red oak harvest was generating about 35% of expected value.

Despite the drop in value the state is going to continue to sell wood into the market under their current plan. “The mills are dependent on the wood,” said Carmen Hardin, the applied forestry

bureau director of the Wisconsin DNR. Many existing timber sale contracts are being extended, unless they’ve had four to five years to cut already. The extensions will allow loggers to transfer to cleanup work that will prevent long term damage to the forests.

Red oak sawlog prices are also being impacted by Chinese retaliatory tariffs, Anderson added, which has also been noted in recent FDN stories.

If you’d like to see more pricing information about your area of the state, based on thousands of transactions for 16 species, please go here.

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