Canada’s top lumber companies, struggling to make two-by-fours from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle, made less lumber at home in 2014, but made up for it by increasing production at mills they own in the United States, according to a survey by industry consultants International Wood Markets.

The top five Canadian companies saw their production here drop by 3.6% over 2013, according to Wood Markets. However, three of those five companies — Canfor, West Fraser Timber, and Interfor — have mills in the United States, and they made a dramatic increase in production from their U.S. mills. The other two on the Wood Products list of top five companies, Tolko Industries and Resolute Forest Products, do not have mills in the U.S.

West Fraser Timber, No. 2 company in Canada, is now the fourth largest lumber producer in the U.S. It increased its production of Southern Yellow Pine by 15%. That shift even took the Wood Markets researchers by surprise, president Russ Taylor said in an interview.

It’s not just the acquisitions that have boosted production. “Companies like West Fraser and Interfor are putting huge capital into those mills that they have acquired. That was the whole objective in buying them: to get more out of them,” Taylor said.

The Canadians began moving into the U.S. little more than a decade ago, with the purchase of two mills in the U.S. South by West Fraser. By 2014, Canfor, West Fraser, and Interfor owned 31 mills combined, producing 3.6 billion board feet of wood. The trend has continued this year, with Interfor buying another four U.S. mills.

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