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Thread: Logging the Sugarbush

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Alcona County, Michigan


    Through a roundabout way, I was put in touch with a forester who was a retired federal forester who went into private practice. He knew how to write a contract and run a sealed bid and he required the loggers to be bonded and to put money in in an escrow-like trust for the end of the job when some loggers like to cut and run. My advice is to join forestryforum.com and get advice including forester recommendations from them.
    44° 41′ 3″ N

    2017 -- 57 Red Maple and 1 Sugar Maple, all on 3/16" natural vacuum. 27 Reds and Freemans and 1 Silver on a single 3/16" line with a Shurflo (soon)
    2016 -- 55 Red Maple (27 on 3/16" tubing)
    2015 -- 15 Red Maple, 6 Birch - 3+ gallons maple syrup
    An awning over my deck is my sugar shack.
    An electrified kitchen sink, an electrified steam table pan, a single burner portable canning stove, and an old Kenmore gas grill are my evaporators.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    wilmot, nh


    Quote Originally Posted by Northwoodsforester View Post
    Hey Folks!
    I am a forester and syrup maker with 30 years experience in Northern Wisconsin. I highly recommend that you first check the Forest Stewards Guild roster (https://www.forestguild.org) to find a forester in your area. Forest Stewards Guild members are highly ethical, the best in the field and will protect your sugarbush and long term interests. Most important: log only during frozen conditions (October up until or before Spring breakup begins), and especially do not begin operations until after bark has fully tightened up in the fall. You can do real damage in your sugarbush if you Spring or Summer log. Most of the damage (bark slippage on roots) is underground and can not be seen. Summer logging (and root damage) will introduce disease and heart rot into your trees. By the way, a good logger (look for certified "Master Loggers") should be able to thin your sugarbush with less than 1% damage to residual trees. More than this is unacceptable. Aim for smaller machines with high floatation/low ground pressure tracks or independent wheel suspension. I prefer a feller/buncher with a processor head on a excavator with tracks (these allow excellent control at grasping and directionally felling trees with a minimum of damage to residual trees), and articulated "forwarders" for minimum damage when removing wood (see photos below). Avoid cable or any grapple skidders if at all possible (unless you are in very hilly terrain where it may be your only option). Even horse loggers can do irreparable damage to your woods if cutting is done during the wrong time of year or when ground conditions are saturated (wet). Trees should be marked by a forester and removed based on "Risk & Vigor" marking rules (removing diseased tree first), with no upper diameter limit. Keep in mind that sugarbush management has its own science & techniques and has very different objectives than managing for timber. Negotiate your timber sale contract and stumpage prices with the logger so he can take his time and afford to shut down if ground conditions change. DO NOT BID YOUR JOB OUT TO THE LOWEST BIDDER! Bottom line: if you breakeven economically but leave your sugarbush in a healthier condition you will be way ahead long term. Good luck!
    Attachment 16108Attachment 16109
    2017 is our 30th year producing in Land O Lakes, WI
    1987-2001 - 1200 taps commercial, all 16 quart pail operation, single horse (Shires, Clydes, & Norwegian Fiords) sled & wagon, all hand collection woods operation.
    2001-present - 250 taps, hobby only
    Leader 4x16’ raised flue, wood fired
    65 acres of healthy 125+ year old sugar maples and mixed northern hardwoods.
    Come visit anytime (715-367-1814)
    i've never felt the urge to join the guild, partly because of the off-putting attitude of superiority that comes across in statements like this, "Guild members...are the best in the field". there is no doubt that members of the guild tend to be good foresters, with a wealth of knowledge. however, joining requires sponsorship, it also requires money, and attending a national guild meeting. some of us aren't interested in the game.

    i do not look down at any guild members, nor do i see myself as better than guild members. i am not smarter or a better forester because of any membership, either SAF, guild, tree farm, state, whatever. i just do my job to the best of my ability, represent landowners in their quest to manage their forests, and recognize that there are thousands of individuals lucky enough to do what we do as foresters, namely, get paid to work in the woods. i keep abreast of silvicultural strategies, ideas, and information through CEU/contact hour/training, reading, and networking with other foresters, along with monitoring the results of my projects dating back to 1992 (when i started professionally). the guild, SAF, and tree farm certainly do help in networking, but are not the only avenues. to be clear, i am not opposed to those; they have benefits. i am a tree farm inspector, and served on the state committee more than a decade ago. but they are not the be all, end all of forestry.

    as a consultant, i'm ultimately responsible to clients. i don't advertise (never have), other than through the results of projects i supervise. i garner work through word of mouth of clients, and logging contractors that have worked with me (i've worked with one or two on this board, ahem, PARKER, ahem). i see plenty of opportunities for more foresters; competition is good.

    as far as managing a sugar orchard, i share your enthusiasm for cut-to-length harvesting as a preferred method, but it is not the only method. in fact, because of the crappy pulp markets, CTL right now has a difficult time competing for wood fiber. CTL is REALLY good at producing pulpwood and cordwood. it is less efficient for hardwood sawlogs and veneer than cable skidding, and for long skid distances compared to grapple/whole tree harvesters. CTL equipment is expensive to purchase; if CTL operators don't have good markets for pulp, they are going to be relegated to niche markets. so even though i might prefer CTL in a sugar orchard, the reality is that the lack of stability in the market might make their availability limited going forward. even though orchard clients might be willing to pay a premium for CTL, the problem is what do the CTL owner/operators do the rest of the year? they need to be productive year-round, not just in the winter months. (same for other forms of logging, too).

    i also prefer negotiated contracts to bid projects for orchard work, finding the operator BEST suited to the particular project rather than the operator paying the most. it's more important to find an operator capable and willing to do the precise work needed in a sugar bush. don't be in a big rush, better to do the job well than fast. if it takes several stages, that's not a bad thing.

    nhlpf #279
    member, new hampshire timberland owners association

    2x6 g.h. grimm company lightning evaporator. made in rutland vt.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Mar 2017


    Not sure about Vermont but PA has a State Certificate process and list of Certified Foresters that are truly third party. They will handle everything from marking timber based on your goals and objectives, laying out log roads and landings, receiving bids from loggers, writing contracts and monitoring logging activities. The charge a percentage of the payout from the timber. Perhaps your conservation district or NRCS office will be able to direct you.

    I know that black birch is considered not a valuable tree in a forest but that is only by people that have never made birch beer. Warning - it is alcoholic when made of sap and it packs a punch. I definitely thin the birch as they will take over a forest if not kept in check.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Ashtabula County, Ohio


    We had our sugar woods select cut about 4 years ago. I walked the woods with the owner of the Amish outfit and told him exactly which trees I wanted cut. It ended up being about 200 red oak, beech, pignut hickory, cherry. He then gave me a price which I accepted. They skidded only with horses and did a nice job avoiding my maples. With that being said, I recommended him to my cousin next door to cut over 150 acres. They are using a bulldozer and are completely destroying the woods. Everything 10" and over is being cut, according to their contract. There is a whole lot more to the story. My cousin has sold his land, 7 acres with house and outbuildings of it being to me. The loggers will be in there until next October (they started last November). They are using my property to store the cut lumber for pickup. From what I have seen and heard around here in NE Ohio, loggers will go as far as you let them. If no one is constantly monitoring their activity in the woods, extra trees will be cut.
    Also, I see Eric commented in this thread. RIP Tucker Mt.
    984 taps on 24-25" of vac
    SL 2x8 raised flue on Leader oil fired arch
    SL Great Lakes Guardian Auto Draw
    Gast 3040 dry vane vac pump, Lapierre electric releaser
    Wes Fab 7" full bank press
    D&G 600 RO
    A&A Finish Tank
    Syrup made in 2014: 329.5 gallons 2015:305 gallons 2016:316 gallons 2017:258 gallons
    Tapping the same trees my great, great and great grandfathers tapped.

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