Cherry lumber has been popular in America for centuries, and it’s no wonder why. The wood is workable, making it a favorite for furniture projects and other indoor applications. It’s also a very attractive wood, and its warm tones and subtle grain patterns have made it an American favorite. But unfortunately for Cherry lovers, supplies of this wood are slowly shrinking.
There are a number of explanations for the dwindling supply of Cherry. First, unlike some species of tree, Cherry is one type of wood that the lumber industry hasn’t yet figured out how to coax into numerous healthy forests. Experts understand where the wood grows best and why, but they have yet to master any steps that would help to make Cherry trees plentiful enough that they became a fully reliable source. Therefore, Cherry trees don’t exist where they’re planted; they exist where they’re found, meaning that this type of lumber is less plentiful than some others.
Part of this has to do with the fact that Cherry trees are somewhat delicate plants. They only grow well in certain conditions, and unless all of those conditions are met, Cherry trees will not be present. For example, Cherry trees are extremely shade intolerant. Therefore, it’s very rare to find a forest populated evenly with Cherry trees; rather, they tend to grow mostly on forest outskirts. This is because the center of the forest is overshadowed by the canopy of other trees, meaning that any unfortunate Cherry saplings that happened to implant themselves in the center of the forest are unlikely to survive the shady environment there.
Even where Cherry does grow healthily, it often doesn’t last for very long. Cherry is a “nurse” species, meaning that it often sacrifices itself for the sake of the forest. Supply of this wood is therefore very cyclical, as Cherry tends to grow on the outskirts of forests (nursing fallow land back to a forested state) and then die out.
The healthiest sources of Cherry are often those areas that have been left to reforest themselves for a short period of time. In fact, some experts have noticed a definite pattern among Cherry lumber supplies, a pattern that follows human history to some degree. In many areas, a healthy supply of Cherry springs up about 80 years after some time of turmoil or disaster in human history (fires, logging, etc.) that destroys the humans’ farming impact and allows the land to reforest. For example, during the 1950s, Cherry lumber was in large supply in many Cherry regions. The trees were plentiful, the lumber was healthy, and Cherry seemed sustainable. Many experts now believe that that large supply of Cherry was a result of the Civil War. The war resulted in many farms being abandoned (as a result of their owners’ deaths), meaning the land was allowed to reforest and the Cherry trees permitted to mature.
One of the best things you can do as a Cherry customer is to purchase Cherry lumber from a reputable dealer. Reliable lumber wholesaler McIlvain Company sources their Cherry lumber from the most sustainable regions of the country, and all of their wood is certified. For smaller orders of Cherry (for personal woodworking projects or other needs), try an online dealer like HardwoodToGo.com, a site that specializes in providing small quantities or off cuts of high quality lumber.