Cherry is ripe for the picking as price retreats

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Market trends reveal the appeal of cherry has waned over the past several years. While limited demand continues for kitchen cabinets and traditional furniture, it has fallen out of favor with designers of commercial projects.

“Twenty years ago, cherry was red hot until maybe 10 years ago,” says Rick Hearne, owner of Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, Pa. “For architectural millwork purposes, woods go in and out of fashion. So, after saturating the market with cherry, the designers had to switch to a different type of wood because companies like to change the look of their stores periodically and when they do, it can be hundreds of stores. Then the darker woods came in like the walnut, and the rustic look is big, rustic oak, knotty oak here, and in Europe, it’s pretty strong, too.”

Hearne sees the quality of cherry increasing due to the reduced interest.

Cherry prices went a little crazy at the beginning of 2018, increasing $.70/bf across all thicknesses, before quickly falling back, according to Bruce Stevens of Highland Hardwoods, a retailer and wholesaler in Brentwood, N.H.

“It was quite a surge in pricing for a relatively short period of time,” says Stevens. “The consumer interest stayed relatively the same, but maybe because of pressure form export demand, the price went up the first of the year into early spring. But almost as quickly as it went up, it went back down to the normal range it was in over the past four to five years.”.

Scott Roberts of Roberts Plywood in Deer Park, N.Y. says he’s selling cherry at a steady rate and also notes that the quality available has increased recently.

“Although it’s not as desirable in today’s fashions, it’s being used. Cherry’s a beautiful traditional wood. Some people are even painting it because of the good workability of cherry. It has good density, it’s better than poplar and it’s more well behaved than soft maple. Others are just going with a clear finish and mixing it with other woods,” says Roberts.

Retails quotes for 4/4 FAS cherry averaged out to $5/bf. It jumps to $8/bf for boards 10” and wider.

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