Calling all foresters - TSI for young sugar maples


Active Member
In order to maximize the growth rate, would it be a good idea to thin the areas of small 3-7" maples by myself in order to free up some crown space for the best looking trees?
I know that thinning would improve habitat for deer, but is it a good idea to get the trees to 16-18" diameter quicker?
And another question - I know many people (especially on here) are opposed to monocultures, but is there any reason for me not to take out the beech, ironwood, pines, etc?
Again, the main objective here is generating more timber value 30-60 years down the road.
Chip, You would do well to call your county conservation district to request the opinion of their local forest conservation forester. It's free and they will walk the property with you providing all sorts of useful information. Timber companies also have foresters that will provide useful information and insight.
The short answer is yes, clearing the canopy for select trees will increase their growth rate and timber value.
How you do this has options. You want to promote top growth. So, I would only cut trees that are obstructing canopy sunlight close to the select trees and continue over time. Hinge cutting can add habitat improvement and cover which appears to be lacking.
As an example, I had an oak surrounded by poplar. I cut the trees obstructing sunlight within 20 feet of the tree. Then in 3 years, further, say 30 feet from the tree. I also fertilized the tree with triple 19 every spring. The tree went from 14 inch diameter to 24 inch diameter in 10 years. Yes, a very small scale due to limited time and resources and partly an experiment you might say...
For diversity and timber stand improvement, I had an 80 acre TSI done 2 years ago. I like to hunt partridge, turkey squirrel, and deer. I kept ironwood for partridge (food and roosting) and pine for cover, especially spruce. Beech is good for squirrel and I kept it, but the forester I spoke with last year indicated that beech are afflicted with a fungus or mold, affecting the bark, that is killing them in our area.
Again, with my interest in forest habitat and speaking with foresters, was enlightening and they are some "cool" characters.
Just consider a lot can change in the timber world in 30 to 60 years. Wasn't long ago that hard maple was pallet wood in many areas...
High stem count = self pruning clear boles, quicker height growth, and straighter trees. Lower stem count = larger crown and more diameter growth. Thinning is to maintain a balance of the two. Id suggest cutting a few trees and see if the growth rings are getting narrower on the outermost rings, signifying more height and slow down diameter growth. Also if one doesnt thin, trees can get very tall/spindly and wont hold up well to wind well after thinning.

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