WHAT'S UP WITH NORTHERN ASH (other than the price)?
In the past few years, northern ash harvesting has taken several hits. First and foremost has been the Emerald Ash Borer infestation that has killed off hundreds of thousands of acres of trees. This problem is so widespread and serious that forestry officials now predict that Northern Ash may become extinct within the next 15 years. In fact, many research groups have gone out and gathered seeds to preserve the species in controlled climates.
Compounding this problem is the depressed economy that has killed the furniture industry. Typically, the furniture industry would place a large demand on ash hardwoods for their products. Now, with the pressure on to cut and utilize infected trees, the lack of demand has silenced the chainsaws and ash trees in vast quantities slowly die off and rot where they stand, becoming useless for anything.
This has caused the larger wood bat companies, and in particular, the asian bat manufacturers to buy up every available ash log. This has resulted in limited amounts of ash billets being produced by the larger mills. The supply is literally disappearing.
Unfortunately, the wood bat industry does not drive enough demand for mills to harvest ash logs and with the unseasonably warm winter, harvesting during the winter months slowed to a crawl as log cutters could not transport logs in the soft, mucky soils of the Catskills.
For us at Area51Sports, this has meant that there has been great difficulty purchasing quality ash billets for our clients and our own use. In fact, we have had to send the last three out of four orders of ash back because it was of inferior quality. This has caused our inventory to become depleted.
We apologize to our clients for this. As we are not a large company, we still lack the clout to hijack a few good pallets from larger bat company orders. We continue to try and find new sources of ash but most of these other sources are unreliable.
The writing is on the wall. Ash will eventually be a thing of the past and a majority of the bats produced in the U.S. will be maple. We continue to try and find viable alternatives to keep our clients supplied with high quality American hardwoods for years to come.