2018 Mississippi Timber Price Trends
Marc Measells, Forestry Associate
Amy: Today, we’re talking about 2018 Mississippi Timber Price Trends. Hello, I’m Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm & Family. Today, we’re speaking with Marc Measells Mississippi State University Extension Forestry Associate.
Amy: Marc, land owners are always concerned about timber prices, especially as their trees are ready for harvest. What have timber prices done so far in 2018?
Marc: Landowners should be concerned with timber prices. They should be in the business of growing trees to make money. We know most landowners own forestland for many reasons other than profit. However, they rely on these profits from timber harvest to cover expenses for many of those other reasons. Unfortunately, most timber prices across Mississippi, especially for pine, are substantially lower than before the housing market crashed causing our last big recession. Statewide average timber stumpage prices for pine sawtimber, pine chip-n-saw, and pine pulpwood were lower during the 3rd quarter than the previous 2 quarters this year. We had slight increases in pine chip-n-saw and pulpwood prices for the second quarter, but they both declined for the 3rd quarter.
Amy: I know we have landowners that also have hardwood trees. How have hardwood prices changed this year?
Marc: Hardwood average stumpage prices, like pine, were lower in the 3rd quarter compared to the 1st quarter of 2018. Statewide average prices for mixed hardwood sawtimber increased during the 2nd quarter but decreased during the 3rd quarter. However, hardwood pulpwood was just the opposite. It decreased in the 2nd quarter but saw a slight increase during the 3rd quarter.
Amy: You are quoting statewide average stumpage prices. Are timber prices consistent across the different regions of Mississippi?
Marc: That is an excellent question and one that landowners really need to understand better. Regional stumpage prices do vary, often times considerably. Landowners in north Mississippi face a much more difficult situation than landowners in the southern part of the state. When it comes to Mississippi timber prices, interstate 20 is considered the dividing line between north and south Mississippi.
Amy: That is interesting. What causes the different timber prices between north and south Mississippi?
Marc: Many variables influence what an individual forest landowner receives for their timber. The main factor causing the difference in timber prices between north and south Mississippi is the number of mills and their locations. Mississippi has approximately 120 mills operating across the state. Some of these are very large mills while others are relatively small. The majority of mills in Mississippi are located south of interstate 20. Like any free market system, the more competition you have for a resource, the higher the prices tend to be. Unfortunately for north Mississippi forest landowners, there are very few mills competing for their timber. Therefore, timber prices across north Mississippi are much lower than south Mississippi. Since there are less mills, timber must be hauled a further distance which is more expensive. The longer haul distances mean landowners in north Mississippi typically receive less for their timber.
Amy: If landowners are considering selling timber soon, how can they find out more detailed timber prices for their location?
Marc: If they want a general idea of timber prices, the Extension website has current and historical prices available. They can go to extension.msstate.edu and search for timber prices. Landowners can then look at historical timber prices back to 1957. Currently, we report timber prices on a quarterly basis and have divided the state into four regions. Landowners should understand these prices are a good price reference and do not reflect what an individual landowner will receive for their timber. Timber prices vary tremendously from one timber sale to another based on many different variables. We will discuss some of these factors that influence timber prices in another program.
Amy: Are other sources of timber prices available?
Marc: Absolutely, there are several paid subscription services available providing reports that are more detailed. They divide the state into smaller regions and can provide data on specific tree species. I do recommend all landowners work with a professional or consulting forester when getting ready to conduct a timber sale. These professional or consulting foresters are a tremendous asset to landowners especially when conducting timber sales because they know all the local market details and will help the landowner receive the best price possible for their timber.
Amy: Can we go to extension.msstate.edu for more information?
Amy: Thank you so much. Today we’ve been speaking with Marc Measells, Mississippi State University Extension Forestry Associate. I’m Amy Myers, and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day!