With Thanksgiving and hunting season behind us, loggers are beginning to look forward to the winter logging season in the Lake States. The window for timber production has continued to shorten with evolving public perception and increasing regulations, making winter a critical time for efficient logging production.
Most of the Lake States have seen some snow, and ground conditions are beginning to firm up. After a brief warm-up into the 50’s around the beginning of December, the forecast through the start of the new year looks favorable for logging conditions.
While weather is certainly an important factor for production, demand is an equally critical component. Most pulpwood inventories are healthy, and some mills are beginning to limit deliveries as we head into 2013. Since pulpwood deliveries are such an important part of the Lake States economy, the ability to move pulpwood affects overall wood production, particularly hardwood sawlogs. Sawmills across the region would generally like to run more hours, and some are even having trouble filling lumber orders as housing starts have increased. Cabinets and flooring are the driving forces behind this demand, but finished product pricing still seems to be out of sync with raw material pricing. Demand from railroads for ties is also providing good markets for lower quality logs.
Finished product markets are expected to remain strong for lumber, pulp and paper products into 2013. If the economic forecasts are correct, a consistently cold winter logging season is needed in the Midwest to provide raw material and meet demand in the coming year.
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