Sugar maples are not particularly good street trees, because they are intolerant of compacted soil, high heat, air pollution, and road salt commonly found in urban environments. They are susceptible to stem and root injury, and verticillum wilt may occur when grown in heavy, poorly drained soils. “Maple decline,” periodic die-backs of relatively large trees in the Northeast, has been attributed to acid rain and other air pollutants, particularly in the last two decades, but its exact causes are not understood.
Even light ground fires may damage the thin bark of sugar maple. Hot fires can kill an entire stand and existing regeneration. The trees sprout poorly after fire. Although communities with sugar maple are relatively resistant to ground fires, a fire hazard may occur in dry years during October, after the leaves have fallen.
Seed can propagate sugar maple; early spring plantings generally produce the best results. Nurserymen usually rely on budding or grafting or sometimes use air layering or rooting of stem cuttings. Use stem tips 35-55 centimeters long taken in mid June with fully elongated bottom leaves; rooting occurs in 4-6 weeks under mist in a 2:1:1 mixture of sandy loam, vermiculite, and peat moss.
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