Field Note—Effects of Small Patch Cutting on Sugar Maple Regeneration in New Hampshire Northern Hardwoods
In many northern hardwood stands in New Hampshire and New England, partial cutting or single-tree selection results in understories with a high proportion of beech and other species with low timber values. Patch cutting, using small openings of about 1/4-ac in size or larger coupled with sufficient logging disturbance, has proved to be an effective way to replace understories of beech and other less valuable species with a new stand containing a high proportion of yellow and paper birch in mixture with other deciduous species. Unless present as well-developed advanced regeneration, sugar maple is seldom common in the new stands produced by small patch cutting. However, when these early successional stands reach 40–50 years of age, understories dominated by sugar maple and with lesser proportions of beech frequently develop, possibly due to the rich leaf-fall, lower proportions of beech litter, and/or changed light conditions. Although small patch cutting may not immediately regenerate abundant sugar maple, it appears as though this technique may help over time to maintain sugar maple as a significant component of northern hardwood forests.
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