Damage to the southern pine forests will increase prices of lumber for construction, said Gene Wengert, the Wood Dr. Hurricane Michael hit southern Florida, Alabama and Georgia in mid-October and damaged more than five million acres of forest and caused at least $1.6 billion in timber losses. Most of the damage was to southern pine trees and forests, which dominate this area.
Estimates are that the storm damaged about 80 percent of the timber in the southern parts of these three states. Pole timber trees worth about $60 per ton before the storm are now worth under $3 per ton as pulp logs. Landowners do not carry insurance for these loses.
“Southern pine forestry and processing are the biggest employers and largest agricultural product,” Wengert said. “Loses to the economy will be significant in the coming months and years.
“Construction lumber should see rising prices because of shortage in timber supplies due to these losses, and because of increased demand for housing repair and rebuilding in the area, and tariffs on Canadian lumber. Canada has supplied about one-third of U.S. construction lumber in recent years.”
Wengert said that these factors, plus the recent increase in mortgage interest to 4.9 percent, will affect the cost of housing, and therefore the number of new units. This in turn will affect the volume of cabinet, flooring, furniture and other wood products. The higher price for housing may also affect the expenditures for cabinets, flooring, and other wood products.