Northeastern Forest -- Sugar Maple Question

ForestFair forestfair at
Thu Jan 8 20:53:45 EST 1998

Mike Hagen <mhagen at> wrote:

>Just out of curiosity, about how old are these trees? Is this is merely
>an appearance defect or does it have effect on usability?

My _uneducated_ guess is 100+/- years.  They're from 16"-26" dbh.  If it stops
raining, I'll go up this weekend and count rings.  The harvesting is stopped
until the ground freezes again.

It's an appearance defect, and it affects usability only for aesthetic reasons.
 With the exception of the darker color that is apparent only after cutting,
there's no other sign of abnormality.  Our consultant and the loggers didn't
know until they started cutting.

Weren't knotty pine prices higher than clear pine some years back?  If people
develop a preference for wide-striped table tops, our sugar maple could command
a premium <g>.   People would actually be asking for striped maple!  

>Is there a
>fungal association? 
>Out here off color is a defect for music wood (OG sitka spruce or
>maple). It is nearly always a sign of incipient rot which becomes more
>visible as the wood ages. 

I don't think there's any pathology involved, rather something cultural.  The
1865 agricultural census showed the town in which our woodlot is located as
having the highest number of sheep of any town in the county, and it makes
sense, since it's very hilly.  It's my understanding that sheep were more
damaging to forest land than cattle because of the compaction caused by their
small feet (more lbs/, I guess) and because of their practice of grazing
so closely, leaving little or no vegetation ungrazed.

But I'm just guessing, and maybe there's a sugar maple expert out there who
knows more about it.


>ForestFair wrote:
>> I'd like to hear from some Northeastern foresters about the possible
>> of darker sugar maple timber?  As our harvest progresses we're finding that
>> sugar maple is darker inside than the loggers expected, and the prices
>> be able to get for it will be somewhat lower than they'd hoped.
>> My guess was minerals in the soil, although I have no idea exactly how that
>> would produce darker wood.  A forester/friend who knows something of the
>> history of the area suggested that soil compaction and intensive grazing by
>> sheep in the 1800's is involved.

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