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Aninaatig (Maple)

22 March 2010

By Christian Nelson

Fond du Lac is home to four different species of maple – sugar, red, silver, and box-elder.  All four species produce sap that can be used to produce maple syrup.  The sugar maple, however, is most favored because its sap is the sweetest (highest in sugar content) and therefore requires the least amount of sap and the shortest boiling times.

Paper birch can even be tapped, although about a month later than the maples.

The number of sugar maple trees on the Reservation today is probably similar to the number that existed more than a hundred years ago.  Early land surveying notes reveal that about thirteen percent of the forested land had at least some component of sugar maple trees; that percentage has changed little.

In fact, it’s getting even better.

Fond du Lac Forestry is actively converting mixed forests of aspen and sugar maple into maple dominated forests by removing the aspen and leaving the maple.  This is accomplished through timber sales planned specifically for this task.  After the sales, the tree crowns of older maples have more room to expand, which results in better tree growth and more sap production.  Young maple trees also benefit.  When the aspen are removed more sunlight reaches into the forest allowing smaller, understory trees to grow.  To add diversity after a timber sale, Forestry often plants yellow birch, red oak, and white pine seedlings.

As spring approaches, let’s all hope for warm days and cool nights, when the sap runs best.

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