Some Thoughts on Ash

It has been no secret the impact that the Emerald Ash Borer has had on North American Ash forests. It is almost a regular occurrence to watch, hear or read of a new story relaying the devastating impact the Ash Borer has brought upon a community, a county or a forest. Forcing the hand of many local officials to be forced to do something with the trees before further damage is done.

Recently the Associated Press, in conjunction with our friends at Wagner Lumber have written an article on loggers race against time before the Emerald Ash Borer claims all the Ash trees. Stories such as these really make you step back and ponder what the future of cabinetry, furniture, and other hardwood products will be with Ash in the future. White Ash DSC8520

In light of this, it appears the market demand for Ash lumber and logs has continued to remain consistent. But from a sawmill’s perspective what we have seen decreasing is the amount of hardwood ash logs that are available to saw!

Some sawmills have been having trouble procuring Ash logs at the rate they were before. With less Ash in the forests, and the increase in demand for Ash logs for export, the amount of Ash lumber produced has dropped for some sawmills.

This has made an big impact on the sawmills in areas that have been affected. Depending on philosophy, some sawmills have made it a priority to saw Ash. Sawing as much as possible because there is often no reason to leaving trees behind to regenerate because the Ash Borer will decimate them anyways. A few years back, sawmills tended to decrease Ash cutting when possible. This resulted in a reduced supply of Ash in the marketplace.

As hardwood lumber companies begin to sell of their warehoused inventories of Ash, companies may have to consider alternate species in their production. That is, unless they can find a way to source Ash from a reliable supplier who can continue to prepare Ash lumber in an acceptable manner.

If certain precautions are taken during processing, we believe that manufactures can still utilize Ash in their production. For example, one way in which we have helped customers continue to receive their supply of ash, despite the Emerald Ash Borer, is by following a process such as this that we have used when exported to our manufacturing customers in the European Union States.

  1. Remove 100% of the bark on all boards.
  2. Kiln dry the lumber to the specified and appropriate levels.
  3. Rip each board to have parallel edges and trim ends accordingly
  4. Fumigate for shipment as required.

Fortunately, we have been able to maintain our levels of Ash production at our sawmills. But it has not been easy. Our ultimate goal is to continue this production as long as possible. With that in mind, it has also not prevented us of thinking what species of lumber will fill the void of Ash in the market.

The Ash inventory at our yards has been moving well across most thicknesses and grades. If you are looking for a consistent, and reliable supply of Ash for your production please let us know. We would be should be able to get you the Ash you need, whether through us or one of our many trusted partner mills, for quite some time.

Have any questions about Ash lumber or the current state of the Ash market? Contact us, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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