Stumpage markets were stable to increasing for most of 2014 and the first half of 2015. However, market conditions changed relatively quickly during the second half of 2015, as mill roundwood demand was met and finished product orders began to decrease for many northern Wisconsin mills. Over supply of roundwood and decreasing demand from the mills resulted in sluggish stumpage prices for the third and fourth quarters in 2015 through present. Although mill demand has picked up in recent months, stumpage pricing remains depressed. Logging conditions have been below average for the 2015/2016 winter. Wet fall weather conditions were followed by relatively mild early winter temperatures, limiting frost depth throughout the region.
Demand for aspen and hardwood poletimber products has picked up; however, many loggers are having difficulty moving softwood pulpwood products in much of north central Wisconsin. Mixed hardwood prices have fluctuated less than aspen poletimber over the last year, and current pricing averages approximately $8.00 per cord higher than aspen in our analysis (refer to Poletimber Stumpage Trends figure below).
Sawtimber markets trended positive since 2009 through late 2014; however, pricing began to decrease quite rapidly in 2015. Exports of hardwood lumber declined back to 2011 and 2012 levels at that time, which limited lumber sales and ultimately reduced mill purchases and delivered prices. Hard maple stumpage has continued to decline, and is now to 2010 levels. Red oak made modest gains in the fall of 2015, and pricing likely remains at or slightly above trend at present. Although sawtimber quality characteristics drive much of an individual timber sale’s demand in the marketplace, the current winter logging conditions have placed more importance on sale access and soil conditions. Timber sales with three to four season accessibility will draw more attention and likely procure superior stumpage rates in the months to come.
The following tables exhibit trends consistent with our above summary. Aspen has dropped below $40.00 per cord, while red pine cordwood has stabilized around $78.00 per cord (refer to Poletimber Stumpage Trend figures).
The following charts depict historic stumpage trends for north central Wisconsin.
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