Heart Size of Sugar Maple Sawlogs across Six Northern States

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Sugar maple is among the most important commercial tree species in the northern United States. Sawlogs with the highest proportion of white wood to discolored heart are the most valuable; logs with more than one-half the log diameter in dark wood must be marketed as pallet logs. Foresters, loggers, and landowners have long speculated about regional variations in heart size, but to date, no one has tested these theories. We examined 53 harvest sites across six northern states and found no significant variation in heart size related to geography, ecoregions, or soil orders. We did observe larger hearts on sites on Spodosols than on Alfisols, which are more base rich. Heart size increased only slightly with diameter at most sites, such that the heart-size ratio decreased (P < 0.001), suggesting that the risk of finding large hearts does not increase with tree age, as previously believed.

Keywords: hard maple; heartwood; log grading; lumber quality; sugar maple

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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