The busy sawmill industry has translated into a buoyant log market especially in the hotbed of Northern England and South Scotland, where prices have been very healthy for timber growers. Elsewhere in the country the more balanced supply and demand ratio has kept log prices at reasonable but not excessive levels. Some export of sawlog material to Germany from ports distant from sawmills has provided growers with good roadside log prices in area which have traditionally suffered from high transport costs.
The panel board industry in common with the sawmills have had a good 2011 to date, most plants are at full capacity and selling all of their product. The recent fire at the Sonae plant near Liverpool has put a lot of additional recycled wood fibre onto the market and provided some additional sales opportunities for most UK producers. Most UK plants are very well bought for small roundwood with strong flows of sawmill residues and recycled fibre meaning that small roundwood usage is reduced. Most of the larger plants have suppliers on quotas, waiting to see how much the summer sawmill shutdown effects their overall fibre stocks. As with the sawlog market, the reduced demand for small roundwood has not had much affect on the standing price.
Other users of small roundwood continue to be buoyant with ongoing deliveries into pellet and wood shavings markets continuing, even though we are in a traditionally slow time of year for such producers. In addition the constant demand for roundwood fencing products keeps prices at a good level for growers as demand comfortably outstrips supply.
The advance of Phytophthora Ramorum in an Easterly and Northerly direction from its initial sites of infection continues albeit at a much reduced pace. The recent information from aerial and ground inspections is that the disease although spreading, is now moving in a more controlled manner. Whether this reduced rate of flow is due to climactic or disease control factors are difficult to quantify but is probably a combination of both factors. The reduced flow of infected Larch material into the market has made a gradual but sustained improvement in returns to owners as we move from an oversupply to a more controlled and normal supply situation. However should we experience a wet summer and autumn the spread of infection may well accelerate dramatically.
To date 2011 has provided good returns to growers from all sectors of the industry, there are some concerns about a slowing economy and issues with the Euro but timber prices appear to be set fair for some time to come.