Me. Potstey, an experienced tree-grower, says an acre of sugar maples at twenty-five years of age will average one foot in diameter and produce two thousand pounds of sugar annually. "When the trees measure twenty inches they will give sixty thousand feet of lumber, worth $2500, besides a great deal of fuel. A peculiarity of this tree is, its body increases faster in size than its top. It can, therefore, be planted very closely. Two hundred trees will grow on an acre. Maple-seed ripens in October, and should be planted in rows the same as ash, but not so thickly. After planting, allow the tree to stand two years in the nursery, and then transplant to ground where it is to grow permanently. Old sugar orchards, with trees left scattering and thin, usually pay a good interest on the value of the land. Two or three hundred maples will thus usually occupy as many acres, often interspersed with beech, basswood, or "hickory. The labor of gathering the sap over a larger area is much increased, while the production of sugar is diminished. I do not know that any one has practically tested the plan, but it seems to me that a regularly planted sugar-maple grove on good land, but not too high-priced, ought to pay at least as well as the average of farming operations. Many farms are already scarce of wood, and to grow two or three acres of sugar-maple orchard would kill two birds with one stone. To accomplish a third object, the sugar bush ought to be planted in such shape and position as to prefect the farm from the prevalent destructive winter winds. A grove of trees on the west side of every grain farm would often be worth the use of the land simply as a shelter-belt to protect winter grain. As forests are being cleared off, many farmers are learning for the first time the importance and necessity of these shelter-belts of trees to protect their crops. But to the plan. For convenience in sap:gathering the sugar orchard should be planted in as compact a form as possible, and in regular rows ten feet apart each way. This will give, if there are no vacancies, four hundred and thirty trees per acre. But when young the trees will grow better if planted closer, say in rows five feet apart, and cultivated for two or three years. Once or twice scarifying the surface during the summer to destroy weeds will answer if you can get two or three year old trees to start with. Often trees ten or fifteen feet high, from new-growth woods, can be bought at small cost, and when this is possible it is always preferable. A young tree taken from a dense growth in the woods, where it has been stunted and smothered, will grow much more rapidly when planted where it can have room to spread, if it is well cultivated and pruned. These unpruned masses of young trees in a forest, each choking the other, and neither half living, are the bugbear which deters hundreds from planting trees. Farmers see how small a growth these make, and conclude that forest-growing is a very slow and unprofitable business. Yet when these same trees are planted by the road-side, often foot-bound with grass, their growth is much more rapid. 1 have in my mind a line of noble maples, planted seventeen years ago this spring by a public road, which have for two or three years been large enough to tap. They were got from the woods, and were the size of whipstalks when planted. Young trees of equal size, then, left in the same woods uncared for, are not half their size. Yet these trees have stood in grass most of the time since planted. Cultivated in orchards, with room enough to grow, and yet so close as to keep down the grass, their growth would probably have been even larger than it is. The principal objection to the maple for timber is the facility with which it decays when exposed to the weather. For fuel, the sugar maple is the American tree par excellence, not second to hickory, which is claimed by many Eastern people to be superior to all others for heat-producing quahties; it forms a dense, broad-based, round-topped, frequently egg-shaped head of deep-green foliage, clean, and more free from insects of all kinds than any other deciduous tree we know. It justly claims a place at the head of American ornamental trees. Being hardy, it is easily transplanted in large sizes, and bears cutting back very patiently. We have known of large trees, three to four inches in diameter, with the tops all cut off, being moved from northern Wisconsin to the prairies of Illinois, and being successfully transplanted. This tree is by far the most valuable of its species; its wood is hard, heavy, strong, close and fine grained; has a silky lustre when polished. The curled maple and bird's-eye maple are the same as the sugar maple, the curl or bird's-eye being caused by the undulations and inflections of the fibre. Its chief uses are in the manufacture of cabinet work, gearings of mills, and in naval architecture.
Sugar made from the maple commands a much higher price than that made from sugar-cane; the syrup made from maple sap is ranked among syrups as A No. 1.
The seeds are in pairs, and are united at the base, but only one of each pair is of any account, the other being worthless. The trees never produce seed two years in succession.
The sugar maple will not thrive in poor, sandy soil, but requires almost any good tillage land. It will not live where the soil is saturated with water during the growing season. Bryant speaks of losing a number of sugar maples in the wet season of 1874, which had been growing several years upon land which, in an ordinary season was dry enough for cultivation. It continues to grow after the silver maple has arrived at maturity, so that a tree-grower should not be discouraged at its slow growth in its early stages. The black sugar maple, though formerly classed as a different tree from the sugar maple, is now generally considered as a variety of sugar maple. Its general properties and its sap are the same; its general appearance is darker, and its leaves are larger, darker, and less scolloped than the sugar maple.