Stumpage markets mainly soft as 2021 opens, with pockets of bright spots

Michigan harvest activity outpaces Wisconsin, according to latest FDN Q1 pricing

MADISON, Wis. -- While soft prices were the rule in both Michigan and Wisconsin, there were sharp contrasts between the states in Forest Data Network’s latest pricing information in the breadth of timber harvest activity in the first quarter of 2021 across species and geography.

Harvest data gathered by Forest Data Network reflected activity in Wisconsin for four of thirteen regions in the state in the first quarter of 2021. All of that activity was in the northern part of the state.

Meanwhile, in Michigan there was harvest activity in all eight Forest Data Network regions, covering the Upper Peninsula and lower Michigan.

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Michigan harvest activity also represented twice as many species as were reflected in Wisconsin data. Forest Data Network data in the first quarter reflected a greater flow of wood in Michigan, with more than double the volume of wood shipped in the Wolverine state.

Michigan’s harvest activity was not generally the result of landowners wanting to harvest because of strong pricing. Some species did capture pricing that improved slightly over soft 2020 levels. For instance, both maple and oak sawlog pricing statewide improved over 2020, but other prices slipped.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin prices were generally soft in most areas of the state. An exception was for oak sawlogs, which rebounded after a weaker 2020.

Despite the favorable price trends from previous years in Michigan, there are generally stronger prices in Wisconsin. This is particularly true for hardwood sawlogs. However, pine sawlog pricing is better in Michigan than in the Badger state.

There were other pockets of strength in specific regions.

Lower Michigan regions showed healthy per thousand board feet (MBF) increases in sawlogs, with some areas showing maple prices jumping by more than 50%. Meanwhile, Upper Peninsula prices were soft except the Escanaba region which showed good strength. It showed increases in all sawlog categories and in pulpwood except for mixed hardwood cordwood and tamarack.

Pine and aspen pulpwood both showed continued strength in Wisconsin, with pine pulpwood hitting a 10-year high. At the same time, hardwood cordwood showed big decreases across the state.

The strongest pulpwood pricing in Wisconsin was in the West Green Bay area. This was led by pine cordwood, which advanced 24% from the previous year. However, with the exception of oak prices, sawlog pricing was dismal across the state.

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