Growers shake off Hurricane Darwin as demand for timber keeps increasing
The aftermath of Hurricane Darwin on timber growers, harvesting contractors and sawmillers alike will continue to be felt for some time.
However all is not as bad as initially feared. While some owners have been badly affected and will incur a much reduced return due to premature clearfell, the overall investment outlook for forestry is very positive.
The market, though, is volatile. In recent months timber prices have fluctuated considerably and it has been difficult for owners to assess the market.
Earlier this year the price for sawlog reached an all-time high, with a parcel of timber offered by Coillte at one roadside auction fetching over €100/t.
This generated much publicity, but it was just one sale and prices are now at least 30pc lower.
While such high prices sound very attractive to the grower they are unsustainable for processors. A wildly fluctuating market is unhealthy for both buyers and sellers.
In Ireland the timber grower is fortunate to have a fairly competitive market, with eight large mills strategically located around the country, and a number of smaller mills operating in niche markets.
None of the large mills are operating at full capacity, so demand for logs is as strong as ever and most of these mills are prepared to travel considerable distances for supply.