N.H. softwood surplus dampens prices

A natural disaster in the forests of western Canada coupled with softening demand for new homes in New Hampshire has placed the state’s timber industry at the center of a perfect storm of falling prices, according to one state timber expert.

Jasen Stock, executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, told NHBR Daily that excessive beetle kills in the softwood species of western Canada have ignited a large-scale timber salvage in the region, the results of which are now being felt in New Hampshire’s timber market.

“Canadian officials want this wood off the stands because of the wildfire danger its poses,” Stock said.

The harvested timber is finding its way to the lumberyards of New Hampshire, Maine and eastern Canada forcing down prices for softwoods – spruce, pine and fir, or SPF.

In addition, imported lumber from places like South America and Australia also are taking a bite out of the U.S. market, Stock said.

All this comes at a time when fewer homes are being built in the state, leaving more of the softwood on the shelves of local lumberyards.

“We are seeing a surplus of the SPF,” said John Feuer of Feuer Lumber, a family owned lumberyard in Atkinson. “We’ve seen a huge effect from the slow housing market. It’s been about 10 months now.”

According to Feuer, a slowdown in demand for certain types of lumber is not unusual, but this year sales have been slower than usual. – TRACIE STONE

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