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Cherry prices reflect diminished demand


Cherry [Prunus serotina] isn’t getting much push from the design community, which currently favors painted finishes and lighter-colored woods, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.

Lou Irion of Irion Lumber in Wellsboro, Pa. says the pricing of cherry hasn’t risen with that of other hardwoods, making it a quite a good deal given its features. Cherry stands grow throughout eastern North America, with a heavy concentration in his area.

“Cherry has been steady for us. We tend to specialize in it because we’re in cherry country. Overall, in the big market, when most of the other woods, especially the maples, went up in price, cherry really didn’t. So, it’s still fairly reasonably priced for what it is,” says Irion.

“A lot of people still really like [cherry], but with all the hardwoods you’re up against, the fact that so many people want paint today, they’re not even choosing between cherry, oak and walnut, they’re just going with paint motif. A lot of people tell us that. That they’d rather be working with natural wood, but the customer wants paint, and the customer’s always right.”

Irion is banking on cherry going back into favor at some point, citing the facts that it’s readily available and offers a high yield.

“Cherry has a bright future, but it isn’t here yet. When you see the beautiful logs available, and you can’t get them in other species like that, you know the market is off. But there isn’t a real strong international market for it like there is for walnut, white oak and other domestics. That’s probably one of the reasons it just hasn’t moved in the last few years. There’ve been slight ups and downs, but nothing significant.”

“Cherry lumber is moderately priced,” says Scott Roberts of Roberts Plywood in Deer Park, N.Y. “It’s a beautiful wood and great to work with, but it’s not too high in demand. Some people are still using it for a traditional look but it’s certainly one of the less sought-after species right now in the big picture. What’s affecting interest is the design community; they want everything painted or in white oak or walnut. But cherry plywood is up in price. Plywood pricing is up in everything.”

“Cherry’s been slow for us at the moment,” says Matt Gilland of Superior Veneer in New Albany, Ind. “I would suppose the trends are not for the cherry color. We’ve done a few orders where I’m sure they were either reproduction jobs or maybe repair work, but we’re not getting a whole lot of orders for cherry. It is affordable and there’s supply available, versus white oak and walnut which are under a little stress because there’s so much demand on them,” says Gilland.

“I would love it if more people were interested in cherry. It’s great to work with and it’s really pretty. But it’s not bucking the design trends yet and we’re at the mercy of our customers. It will swing back again. It’s just a matter of waiting.”

FAS 4/4 cherry is selling for $5.50 to $8/bf. 

This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue.

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