Sugarbush Management


What to do about the dead ash in your woods

Peter Smallidge, NYS Extension Forester and Director, Arnot Teaching and Research Forest | June 22, 2020

ITHACA, N.Y.—The emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis) will have significant impacts on eastern hardwood forests.

In many areas the impact has happened.

Unfortunately, all of the mature ash are likely to die once EAB establishes and spreads in a woodlot.

Current research and corresponding field trials are evaluating the efficacy of parasitoid wasps and other biocontrol agents, but their greatest impact is likely to offer hope for ash seedlings and saplings.

More information about the EAB biocontrol program is available at


Study shows declining winter snowpack is hurting the sugar maple

Peter Gregg | February 13, 2019

NEW YORK—Despite a steady campaign of snowstorms this winter, the decades-long trend of declining snowpack is slowing down tree growth, scientists say.

A loss of snowpack, and in turn a deeper frost layer, dramatically reduces the ability of the sugar maple to take up water and nutrients through frost damaged roots, according to researchers.

“The experiments we conducted suggest snowpack declines result in more severe soil freezing that damages and kills tree roots, increases losses of nutrients from the forest and significantly reduces growth of the iconic sugar maple,” said Andrew Reinmann, PhD, Assistant Professor, Environmental Sciences Initiative, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center at Hunter College in New York City. MORE ]


Buckthorn management in the sugarbush

Peter Smallidge, Cornell University | August 24, 2018

Glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and European buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) are common and can aggravate many ownership objectives. A variety of chemical and mechanical (i.e., organic) methods are available for the sugarmaker to control these species.

The buckthorns originated in Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. Their history of introduction into the US is poorly recorded, but many other examples of species that have become interfering were introduced in the middle 1800’s.

Glossy buckthorn was formerly known as Rhamnus frangula and is different but looks similar to the native alder-leaved buckthorn (Rhamnus alnifolia). Glossy buckthorn is a small shrub that is most common on moist soils, often near wetlands.

As with other interfering species, the interfering buckthorn species can dominate a site resulting in complicated access, reduced success with forest regeneration, and a reduction in plant species diversity. MORE ]


Forest tent caterpillars back on the crawl in Vermont

Leon Thompson | June 20, 2018

BURLINGTON, Vt.—Just how many acres of maple trees will the forest tent caterpillar affect in Vermont this year — and possibly next?

State officials and maple industry experts in the Green Mountain State are using the remainder of this year to find an answer to that question.

By the end of July, the state will have sketched a map of Vermont that will help delineate specific areas of defoliation caused by the forest tent caterpillar this year.

Then, over this coming winter, The Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation will work with the Civil Air Patrol to conduct an arial egg mass survey of the entire state, to prepare for 2019.


Wriggling little pests have something to chew on

Paul Post | Oct. 3, 2017

David Smart is used to seeing the sun shine down through treetops when sap starts flowing in his northern New York sugarbush. In July, there’s normally have heavy green canopy overhead.

But not this year as an unprecedented infestation of forest tent caterpillars has stripped trees of their leaves, creating a scene that looks more like early spring instead of mid-summer. Hundreds of acres throughout the North Country have been affected by the wriggling little pests. MORE ]


Going solar: Powering the sugarhouse with the sun

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant | July 2017

According to the Governor’s office, solar use in New York grew 300 percent from 2011 to 2014. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision program plans to spend $1 billion on solar, which can help ag operators better afford to install solar panels.

Additional solar growth in New York State could come from another element in the REV program, a proposed $5 billion Clean Energy Fund, which would put investments into play over the next ten years across four portfolios: Market Development, Innovation and Research, NY Green Bank and NY-Sun.

Though this statistic includes numerous agricultural operations, many of those are dairies. Few of them are maple sugar producers. MORE ]