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Health of Eastern North American Sugar Maple Forests and Factors Affecting Decline

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Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is a keystone species in the forests of the northeastern and midwestern United States and eastern Canada. Its sustained health is an important issue in both managed and unmanaged forests. While sugar maple generally is healthy throughout its range, decline disease of sugar maple has occurred sporadically during the past four decades; thus, it is important to understand the abiotic and biotic factors contributing to sugar maple health. Soil moisture deficiency or excess, highway deicing salts, and extreme weather events including late spring frosts, midwinter thaw/freeze cycles, glaze damage, and atmospheric deposition are the most important abiotic agents. Defoliating insects, sugar maple borer (Glycobius speciosus), Armillaria root disease, and injury from management activities represent important biotic factors. Studies of sugar maple declines over the past four decades reveal that nutrient deficiencies of magnesium, calcium, and potassium; insect defoliation; drought; and Armillaria were important predisposing, inciting, and contributing factors in sugar maple declines. Forestland managers can contribute to sustained health of sugar maple by choosing appropriate sites for its culture, monitoring stress events, and examining soil nutrition.

Keywords: Sugar maple health; nutrition; stress effects; sugar maple decline

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Forestry Sciences Laboratory, PO Box 267 Irvine, PA, 16329 2: Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 359 Main Rd., Delaware, OH, 43015 3: Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, RFD #1, Campton, NH, 03223 4: Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 271 Mast Rd., PO Box 640 Durham, NH, 03824 5: Northeast Center for Forest Health Research, 51 Mill Pond Rd., Hamden, CT, 06514

Publication date: March 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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