Seasonality is generally the strongest driver of pulpwood prices in the summer. When the weather is wet, generally in the winter, low-lying timber tracts cannot be harvested, causing a supply shortage that drives prices up. In the summer, dryer conditions generally provide ample timber supply, causing prices to drop.
This is especially true this summer, as most areas in the US South are experiencing record drought conditions. Under these conditions, we would typically expect pulpwood prices to drop. Results to that expectation have been mixed thus far (see figure below). Pine pulpwood price has increased since the beginning of the year and continues to rise. In fact, pine pulpwood price is $0.55/ton higher in June than it was in January. Hardwood pulpwood has been behaving more in line with expectations for seasonality. Although hardwood pulpwood price is up $0.40/ton since January, it has fallen in each of the last four months.
Global pulp demand was strong in the first half of the year (though this has recently begun to soften), and demand for pulpwood-sized material from pellet producing facilities has also been strong. These factors have made it possible for pine pulpwood prices to stay high throughout the summer despite one of the worst droughts in decades.
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