Southern Pine Strength Reduction Could Have Widespread Impact ~

CORRECTION: In our last issue, Coastal Connection reported that suggested new span tables for Southern Pine lumber are posted at the website of the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB). In fact, those proposed tables are posted at the website of the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA). The Southern Pine Inspection Bureau is an independent technical organization tasked with third-party testing and quality control functions in the Southern Pine lumber industry. The Southern Forest Products Association is an industry association formed to promote lumber produced in the South. The SFPA website states, “The Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA) does not test lumber or establish design values. SFPA’s primary function is to market lumber products and to help users understand Southern Pine grading rules and design values developed by the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) and approved by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) Board of Review.” The American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC), according to the organization’s website, “is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Maryland. The ALSC, comprised of manufacturers, distributors, users, and consumers of lumber, serves as the standing committee for the American Softwood Lumber Standard (Voluntary Product Standard 20) and in accordance with PS 20, administers an accreditation program for the grademarking of lumber produced under the system. That system, the American Lumber Standard (ALS) system, is an integral part of the lumber industry's economy and is the basis for the sale and purchase of virtually all softwood lumber traded in North America.” Re-Testing and Re-Grading will Affect Millions of Board Feet This winter, the Southern Pine industry and its various marketing, testing, and grade standards agencies are involved in an industry-wide re-assessment of the structural strength of Southern Pine. According to a recent report by Forest Economic Advisors, a consulting group based in Westford, Mass., the process is likely to affect a broad segment of the lumber industry. Hanley-Wood’s ProSales magazine has this report (“ Southern Pine Changes Could Affect Over 1 Billion Feet of Lumber, Consultant Says,” by Craig Webb): “Proposals to reduce some design values for Southern pine could affect demand next year for more than 1 billion board feet of visually graded lumber--at least one-eighth of the Southern pine dimensional lumber milled in 2011--as well as trigger longer-term changes in the price and popularity of machine-rated Southern pine, engineered lumber, and other types of softwood lumber, Forest Economic Advisors (FEA) predicted today.” According to a prospectus provided by FEA’s Brian Doyle, the report tackles the following issues: • What volume of Southern Pine lumber production goes into "strength-dependent" framing applications, such as roof trusses, floor trusses, roof rafters, floor joists and beams, and headers? • How much market share will visually graded Southern Pine retain and how much will likely be lost to substitutes such as MSR/MEL, I-joists, LVL, PSL, LSL, and OSL? • Is there sufficient MSR/MEL capacity in the South to meet anticipated demand through 2015? • What about capacity for I-joists and engineered lumber products? • What will happen to MSR price premiums? • Is a perfect storm brewing for MSR supply? • Will the other major species be subject to design stress reductions? • What are the implications for the Southern Pine lumber industry? • What are the implications for Southern sawtimber? FEA offers the report to the public for $500.