North American structural panel production increased 9.6% in the third quarter to 6.702 billion ft2, up from 6.114 billion ft2 in Q2 and the highest since Q3 last year (8.050 billion ft2), according to the latest quarterly statistics from APA-The Engineered Wood Association.

Total North American consumption of structural panels in Q3 was 6.686 billion ft2, compared to 6.089 billion ft2 in the previous quarter – a 6.8% increase, but still a drop of 15.7% compared with Q3, 2008 (7.934 billion ft2).

Structural panel production in the US was up 9.5% in Q3 at 4.990 billion ft2 compared with Q2 (4.557 billion ft2), while Canadian output increased 10.0% from 1.557 billion ft2 in Q2 to 1.712 billion ft2.

Plywood and OSB production in Q3 were 13% and 19% lower than in the corresponding quarter in 2008 at 2.724 billion ft2 and 3.978 billion ft2, respectively.  But that was an improvement on the year-over-year declines in Q2, when plywood production dropped 20% from 3.334 billion ft2 to 2.642 billion ft2, and OSB was 31% lower at 3.472 billion ft2 compared to 5.005 billion ft2 in Q2 2008.

OSB production was down 30% in the first three quarters, compared to the same period last year. But in Q3 this year, there was a 15% increase in production compared to Q2, from 3.472 billion ft2 to 3.978 billion ft2.

Output of specialty OSB, which includes I-joist web stock, rimboards and furniture frames, jumped 27% to 319 million ft2, up from 252 million ft2 in Q2.

Softwood plywood production increased just 3.1%, from 2.424 billion ft2 in Q2 to 2.724 billion ft2. Compared to Q3 last year (3.135 billion ft2), production was 13% lower.