U.S. sawmills in the first three months of 2020 produced 9.161 billion board ft. (bbf) of softwood lumber, up 5.2% from the 8.708 bbf produced in the same period a year earlier.
Data on Canadian lumber production is not available at this time. No timeline is available for the release of February and later lumber production survey data from Canada because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Western U.S. sawmills in the first three months contributed 3.613 bbf to the total, up 1.4% from the prior year’s 3.564 bbf, while output from Southern sawmills was up 8.1% to 5.116 bbf from 4.734 bbf a year ago.
In March alone, U.S. sawmills produced 2.997 bbf – up 5.3% from March 2019’s 2.846 bbf, and up 2.7% from production in February 2020 of 2.918 bbf.
Sawmills in the West contributed 1.219 bbf to March’s U.S. total, up 3.1% year-over-year from 1.182 bbf, and up 6.1% compared with February’s volume of 1.149 bbf. Southern sawmills accounted for 1.637 bbf in March, a year-over-year increase of 7.0% from 1.530 bbf in March 2019, and up 0.3% compared with 1.632 bbf in February.
Apparent U.S. softwood lumber consumption in the first three months of 2020 was 12.335 bbf, up 6.4% from 11.593 bbf in the first three months of 2019. In March, apparent U.S. consumption was 4.263 bbf, up 6.7% from 3.997 bbf a year earlier, and up 9.2% from 3.902 bbf in February 2020.
U.S. production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 86% in the first three months of 2020, up from 82% in the same period a year ago. In the month of March, production as a percentage of practical capacity averaged 82%, up from 80% in March 2019 but down from 88% in February.
U.S. inventories in March were down 4.2% year-over-year to 3.073 bbf from 3.209 bbf.