Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension
https://extension.umn.edu

Extension is expanding its online education and resources while in-person events and classes are canceled.

Managing northern white cedar forests

Quick facts

  • Northern white cedar grows best on limestone-derived soils that are neutral or slightly alkaline, and moist but well-drained.
  • Northern white cedar is shade-tolerant and can be managed using either single-tree selection or clear-cutting systems
  • Rotation lengths range from 70 years for posts  to up to 160 years for poles or small sawlogs.
  • White cedar is relatively free of major insect and disease problems. 
  • A mixed species stand with 50 to 80 percent white cedar is best for multi-use purposes.
Northern white cedar in wood setting

There is a strong demand for good northern white cedar lumber, but many mature stands do not have enough volume for a commercial harvest. White cedar is also used for fence posts and poles.

The white cedar forest type is valuable for deer yards, but some have inadequate shelter or food. Deer habitat is best if white cedar stands at different development stages are interspersed throughout the forest.

Growing conditions

 | 

Regenerating northern white cedar

Northern white cedar is shade-tolerant and can be managed using either single-tree selection or clear-cutting systems. Trees are regenerated by natural seeding following single-tree selection, clear-cutting or shelterwood harvest, which is partial harvesting that allows new stems to grow up under an overstory of maturing trees.

 | 

Intermediate treatments

Young white cedar stands overgrown with shrubs or hardwoods may benefit from an herbicide treatment, if there is no surface water nearby that could be contaminated. Alder, black ash, aspen, paper birch, willow, red maple and balsam poplar are the main competitors to control.

To produce timber, your forester may recommend thinning middle-aged stands at intervals to benefit the tallest trees.

Pest management

White cedar is relatively free of major insect and disease problems.

 | 

Mel Baughman, emeritus Extension forester

Reviewed in 2018

Share this page:

© 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.