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Managing tamarack forests

Quick facts

  • Tamarack is commonly found on bogs or peatlands.
  • There is little economic impact from tamarack harvesting.
  • Common pests to tamarack trees include larch sawfly, eastern larch beetle, root and heart rots, and porcupines.
Tamarack among other conifer trees
Tamarack is easy to spot as the only conifer that shreds its leaves each fall.

Managing tamarack forests

Tamarack (also known as eastern larch) is used for pulp, poles and lumber, although it has relatively minor economic importance.

You’ll find red squirrel, snowshoe hare and porcupine in tamarack stands. Tamarack is habitat for many songbirds and a critical habitat for the great gray owl and its small mammal prey species.

Growing conditions

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Regenerating tamarack

The regeneration system advised for tamarack combines clearing and seed-tree with natural seeding. Good seed years occur every three to six years starting when trees are about 40 years old.

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Intermediate treatments

Thinning is only economically feasible on good sites when the goal is to produce poles or sawtimber.

If a market exists for small products such as posts or pulpwood, cut and sell the trees as soon as the stand can produce these products. This approach is known as commercial thinning.

Additional periodic thinnings are recommended up to 20 years before the end of the rotation. Each thinning should leave a basal area of 80 to 90 square feet per acre. Basal area measures stand density using the sum of trees’ cross-sectional areas at 4.5 feet from the ground (known as breast height).

Pest management

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Mel Baughman, emeritus Extension forester

Reviewed in 2018

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