Hardwood pulpwood prices should remain strong, pine pulpwood may be brighter in the coming decades, but pine saw timber will likely remain static for the foreseeable future, according to predictions for Arkansas’ $6.3 billion forest industry.
Matt Pelkki, economist and associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, and George H. Clippert Endowed Chair of Forestry at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, was among the presenters during a day of education and training for registered foresters. More than 200 foresters got a multifaceted view of their industry including ethics, wildlife, politics and economics from speakers during the June 1 event organized by the Cooperative Extension Service and held at Henderson State University.
“Hardwood pulp prices are higher because we have four large paper mills — Domtar, Evergreen, Georgia-Pacific-Crossett and Clearwater — that all use large amounts of hardwood in their paper making processes,” Pelkki said. “Only Green Bay in Morrilton does not use hardwoods for making its products.
“Recently, Domtar converted a third of its production from a hardwood-dominant use for uncoated free sheet – copier paper to pine fluff pulp for the export market,” he said. “This took full effect this spring. Hardwood pulp prices in southwest Arkansas have really fallen, it just hasn’t shown up on the price reports yet.”
Pelkki expected to see improvement for pine pulpwood in the coming decades. “Pine pulpwood again just has a supply that vastly exceeds demand,” he said. “Even when Sun Paper and Highland Pellets get into full swing, the supply will overwhelm demand for about five years.” Highland Pellets’ $229 million plant at Pine Bluff will produce wood pellets for generating electricity. These pellets are aimed for export to Europe. Shandong Sun Paper is building a $1.3 billion plant near Arkadelphia and when open, is expected to process some 400 truckloads of small timber every day.