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Less demand abroad helps domestic cherry sales

Quality cherry is available and selling well, according to most hardwood suppliers interviewed by Woodshop News. The chief reason is that the best logs — with fewer defects and sought-after color — are staying home.

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Lou Irion, owner of Irion Lumber in Wellsboro, Pa., says he sees more interest in cherry than he has in a while and believes consumers finally feel it meets their standards again.

“I think cherry bottomed out a few years ago and it has definitely started to come back. There are a number of reasons, but when cherry was king 10 years ago and the market collapsed, the mills stopped cutting it. Prior to that, the quality of cherry was very poor and very sappy because most of the logs were going overseas. Now more logs are staying in the domestic market and the quality of cherry has improved and the price has dropped a fair amount.”

Scott Limeone of Keiver Willard Lumber in Newburyport, Mass., is seeing specialty orders increase.

“We sell cherry moldings and rough lumber for flooring, furniture and tabletops. We stock two different FAS grades. One is basic and the other is sorted for the red coloring, which we call 90/90, with 90 percent heartwood on each face. People aren’t looking for sapwood; they want the red heartwood,” Limeone says.

Steve Jackel of West Coast Woods in Watsonville, Calif., has a different view.

“Cherry is not as popular as it’s been in the past. It’s down about 20 percent from January to May this year compared to last year. It used to be a bigger item for us in years past. Our business is driven by architectural specifications, so we’re mainly responding to project requirements. The other part of our business goes to small cabinet shops and they’re just not buying cherry. I wouldn’t know why. We have good Pennsylvania cherry. It’s a good color, it’s clear and our source is really good,” Jackel says.

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue.

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