Managing trees planted for maple production.
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The often overlooked value of red maple trees for syrup production
Silvics of North America describes the silvical characteristics of about 200 conifers and hardwood trees in the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Individual articles were researched and written by knowledgeable Forest Service, university, and cooperating scientists. They were reviewed by their counterparts in research and academia. The project took 10 years to complete. The revised manual retains all of the essential material from the original publication, plus new information accumulated over the past quarter of a century. It promises to serve as a useful reference and teaching tool for researchers, educators, and practicing foresters both within the United States and abroad.
We are seeing new challenges for our maples and their offspring. Invasive species, climate change, poor forest management, and other factors are all serious threats to the productivity of harvesting maple sugar in the decades to come. However, there are things we can do to protect the tradition of maple sugaring in our regions. Silviculture is our primary tool.
A new foreign invader could have a substantially negative impact on the eastern North American hardwoods in general, and sugarbushes in particular. The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula, SLF) was first detected near Philadelphia, PA in 2014 and since has spread throughout much of the Commonwealth and has been sighted in about a half dozen New York counties and in several sites in southern New England.
Maple production requires sugarmakers possess a diverse set of skills in order to tend the forest resource and maintain a productive sap collection system. Maintaining a healthy, diverse sugarbush that maximizes its growth potential requires periodic vegetation management activity. Also known as thinning, vegetation management is the process of reducing competition for light, water and nutrients of crop trees. Felling trees is the key activity in vegetation management and may be done by logging professionals in support of formal forest management plan objectives or by the sugarmaker or landowner on an as needed basis and including response to extreme weather events.
A sugarbush is a special type of woodland. Woodlands include a complex mixture of natural processes and attributes such as soil type, elevation, tree species, types of wildlife, history of use, tree age and more. Foresters can help maple producers gain an in-depth understanding of these factors to achieve a healthy and productivity sugarbush, but there are several steps a maple producer can take on their own.
Technological advances by maple equipment manufacturers, continued outreach and education by local, state, federal, and provincial maple organizations, and widespread adoption of new management practices by producers have revolutionized the maple industry over the last 20 years. The design and layout of sap collection systems and advances in vacuum pumps and releasers has resulted in higher per tap sap yields well beyond the old standards. Increased per tap volume has been matched with modern high brix reverse osmosis systems and efficiency gains in evaporators, pushing the economic potential of making maple syrup to new heights. Value-added products, niche marketing and branding, and social media and online platforms, coupled with health conscious and savvy consumers,have altered the retail sales landscape and linked rural maple producers to consumers around the world.
Looking around your woods youÕll see that there are far more trees on the landscape than you have time to measure. The science of forestry has taught us that similar stands (ones that have the same species composition, size classes, productivity, and management history) do not need to undergo a 100% census to get an accurate picture of what is there. Foresters use sampling methods that inventory stands to get an accurate representation of what is in them and the quality of the resource.
ItÕs been 10 years since the ALB was first reported in Worcester, Massachusetts, and since then 24,179 ALB-infested trees have been found and removed, including the four trees mentioned. This has dramatically changed the character of the heaviest hit Worcester neighborhoods, Greendale and Burncoat, and resulted in a massive reforestation effort. Those neighborhoods were the center of the infestation and nearly every single host tree, including street trees, were removed in the effort to eradicate this pest. The DCR ALB Reforestation program, Worcester Tree Initiative, the city of Worcester, and the other five municipalities in the regulated area have replanted thousands of trees. Today, those young trees have become established and have started to provide much needed shade and wind breaks.