Spring is traditionally a period when trade picks up significantly in all sectors, however as mentioned earlier the weather is doing its best to dampen down the usual uplift. The hope must be that this will just delay the onset of improving prices for both fencing and construction grades and that a spell of good spring weather will kick start a sluggish beginning to 2013 across all sectors.
The continuing effect of disease on felling programmes across the UK is having a dampening effect on prices for some species specific products such as redwood sawlogs in the west and Wales as large areas of Larch continue to be felled. The anticipation is that the weather in 2012 will only have exacerbated the spread of Phytophthora and many growers are waiting with some trepidation the flushing of Larch in May/June of this year to see how the disease has progressed geographically. A similar story can be found in Pine areas damaged by Dothistroma (red band needle blight), the effects of which are felt the entire length of the East coast of the UK. The silvicultural treatment of the Pine to try and cope with the effects of the disease has resulted in a lot of small diameter pine of the Pine to try and cope with the effects of the disease has resulted in a lot of small diameter pine entering the market, just at the time when the round fencing market has gone into freefall due to a very wet 2012. However with some signs of improvement in the early part of this year, there is some hope that demand and prices will recover soon.
The market for most products from the forest gate remains stable with a few regional variations. There is a downward pressure on sawlog prices as sawmillers look to restrict the log price to compensate for the very competitive sawn market. However the disruption of supplies due to weather conditions has allowed most growers to resist price reductions. There is a similar story for small roundwood with regional demand driving prices rather than the market for the end product. Generally the picture for the grower is one of stability with the potential for some improvement if the unheard of where to happen, and the sun were to shine for a sustained period or failing such an unlikely event it would stay dry and warm for a few weeks.