If you’ve been to the hardware store or embarked on a construction project in the past year or so, you’ve probably been shocked at the price of lumber. While not quite reaching the scarcity levels as of mid-2020 of another wood-based product, toilet paper, the wood shortage is significant.
The cost of wood is not the result of any particular factor, but fundamentally it is caused by the universal economic drivers of supply and demand. Recently, Auburn University forestry professors Adam Maggard and Daowei Zhan published an article that provided a detailed analysis of the issues to be addressed, from the availability of sawlogs (spoiler, there are many) to the ‘effect on housing prices (spoiler, when construction costs less people can afford to build houses). You can view the entire article at https://www.aces.edu/go/2028.
My main takeaways from their article are that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on lumber production and on Canada’s lumber import limits. This, coupled with the fact that many people are staying at home during the pandemic and undertaking renovation projects, or even buying new homes, means that the demand for lumber has gone through the roof and lumber producers are not. could not follow. Local wood producers are not the ones to take advantage of this demand, as most production bottlenecks are in fact at the sawmill level.
There are a variety of other more complex futures and market conditions that have exacerbated these latent issues. What consumers like me want to know is “When can I expect to buy a 2×4 for less than $ 10?”
There is no easy answer since the market is still sorting itself out, so patience is the answer if you can. The authors said that while current prices seem unrealistic, they do not anticipate any changes in the near term.
In the meantime, I raid my carpentry shop to see if I have any “appreciable assets” in my scrap heap.
For more information on this and many more, contact the Etowah County Extension Office, 256-547-7936 or 3200 A W. Meighan Blvd., Gadsden. Eric Wright is Extension Coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.