Construction slow-down keeps trees growing - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Construction slow-down keeps trees growing

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October 27, 2006 

Albany -- South Georgia's timber industry has slowed dramatically because of the national housing slump. The price of lumber and timber has fallen sharply, because of less building.

These South Georgia Pine trees will probably stand for the winter, because the third quarter price for them has fallen more than ten percent from last year. 

F&W Forestry Services Vice President Rob Routhier said, "it's decreasing the demand for soft timber sized trees, because lumber production is being curtailed, because of the over supply of lumber."

Forest consultants say South Georgia tree farmers are seeing the housing slump now. The demand for lumber is way off last year, and prices have dropped 25%. But last year was when rebuilding from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed the demand for lumber to record highs. 

"We are down about 30% in lumber prices from last year," Routhier said. "But if you take out the effects of the hurricanes, we are probably only down 20%."

The summer drought conditions also pushed the supply of timber to high levels, because logging never slowed due to wet conditions. With fewer houses being built, less demand for lumber will keep the price of timber low.

Tree growers will simply wait until the price goes back up.  "They can afford to let the trees stay on the property and continue to grow in size, until the market increases," Routhier said.

F&W seen a marked decline in timber sales by their landowners. The trees will probably grow bigger, waiting for the demand for lumber, and the price to go back up.

Forestry is the third leading industry in Georgia, with an economic impact of more than $20 billion per year.


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