Northern NY Agricultural Development Program 2006 Project Report
Brian Chabot, Professor, Cornell University, 102 Little Rice, Ithaca, NY 14853; (607) 254-4234, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Farrell, Director, Uihlein Forest, 157 Bear Cub Lane, Lake Placid, NY 12496; (518) 523-9337, email@example.com
Peter J. Smallidge, NY State Extension Forester, Cornell University, Fernow Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853
Stephen Childs, NY State Maple Specialist, Cornell University, 110 Fernow Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853
- Burnham Family (Jefferson County)
- Jason and Barbara Zehr (Lewis County)
- Jim and Christine Mueller (Franklin County)
- Joeseph and Irene Schork (Franklin County)
- Tony Corwin (Essex County)
- Kim LaDuke (Essex County)
- Art Person (Essex County)
- Parker Family Maple (Clinton County)
- Mike Hill (Warren County)
The two objectives of this project are 1) to evaluate ways to improve the growth of maple trees in order to increase yield of sap sugar, and 2) to improve sugarbush/forest management practices in NNY. Maple sugar is a high value crop in all counties in NNY and is a sustainable use of the natural resource base for this area.
Even though fast growing trees are known to produce more sugar, recommendations on how to manage trees for fast growth in the NNY environments are poorly developed. Also, the relation between sugar yield per tree and sugar yield per acre under different tree stocking densities has not been established anywhere. Developing this relationship is essential in being able to recommend forestry practices that maximize syrup production per acre.
The success of any maple operation begins with the ability of trees to produce sap, remain healthy, and sustain production over a long period of time. We intend for this research to lead to better recommendations about how manage the NNY maple resource to maximize sugar yield and net income to the producer. We also will seek ways to improve tree health and sustainable sap yields.
Research on the effects of thinning on maple growth and sap sweetness is underway at the Uihlein Forest and 9 producer locations throughout Northern NY. Many other locations were visited and rejected either because of forest condition or because there was not enough uniformity to have replicated plots. We are still searching for one or more acceptable sites in St. Lawrence County and will be establishing additional plots on the Uihlein Foundation property in Lake Placid. Three plots were established at each location representing two levels of thinning and one control. The thinning produced two levels of residual basal area, one representing a light thinning and the other a heavier cut. The forests are reasonably close in age and structure. Prior to undertaking thinning, the project leaders were trained in chain saw safety and use in directional felling through the Game of Logging program. The benefits of directional felling techniques became evident to the cooperating maple producers and we will be sponsoring offerings of the Game of Logging in 2007 for interested producers.
We learned there is a wide range of forest management practices from those undertaking regular thinning to many who are not doing any regular forest management. Most NY sugarbushes are over stocked with too many trees having minimal growth. Thinning in most forests should have happened years before we arrived. Many trees below the 10 inch dbh limit are being tapped and many trees are being over-tapped. Density management works best if started when trees are less than 10 inches. We also have made progress on improving our understanding of the theory behind optimizing tree density. A draft of a paper on this has been developed.
The immediate impact this year has been with the maple producers involved in the project where they were able to learn proper management techniques in their own woods. At each location we educated the producers about techniques of forest inventory, tree measurement, selecting trees for removal, and using the thinning tables to reach target residual basal area.
What we learned from these activities has been incorporated into presentations for larger audiences in winter maple schools. Forest management presentations were made in January 2006 at three NNY workshops in Lewis, St. Lawrence and Warren Counties, for maple producers.
Information on forest management was made available to maple producers through three newsletters (Short and Sweet) distributed in NNY in 2006 and two state-wide publications:
- Smallidge, P.J. and Farrell, M.L. 2006. Thinning in Your Sugarbush. Pipeline
- Heiligmann, R.B., Koelling, M.R. and Perkins, T.D. (Eds) 2006. North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual. Ohio State University Extension Bulletin 856. (Chapter 5)
Next steps if results suggest continued work is needed in the areas of research, demonstration and/or education.
This is a multiyear project. We will add at least one more site in St. Lawrence County. During 2007, we will be monitoring tree response to thinning treatments along with sap sugar and volume. This will be done using the producer cooperators so as to give them additional experience with research techniques.
Workshops on forest management will occur in 2007 at the January Maple Schools. We are planning three forest management workshop at producer cooperator locations. One thinning workshop is scheduled for September 8, 2007 in Franklin County and we anticipate hosting two others in NNY during Fall 2007. Direct engagement in the woods is the most useful learning technique, so we hope to reach over 50 producers through these hands-on workshops.
Northern NY Agricultural Development Program
McIntire-Stennis Program of the USDA
Cornell Maple Program