Management strategies to control American beech in northeastern woodlots. .

Funding support and partners

Cornell University Cooperative Extension

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station

People involved with the project

Project Leader – Peter Smallidge.  (607) 592 – 3640.

Owners, Managers, and Field Site Collaborators:

Cornell  Agric. Expt. Station forest lands

Cornell’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest

Herb Boyce, Clinton County

Judy Gianforte, Saratoga County

Mike Greason, Greene County

Karl Pierce, Lewis County

Ed Neuhauser, Tompkins County

Paul Osborn, Genesee County

Ron Pedersen, Broome County

Kevin Virkler, Adirondack League Club


Colleagues, Organizational Partners and Students

Dr.  Ralph Nyland

Dr.  Jeff Kochenderfer

Dr. Steve Horsley

Mike Ashdown

Dr. Paul Curtis

Adirondack League Club

Mike  Wine (2008)

Dan Schneider (2008)

Mark Baran (2009)

Gavin MacKellar (2009)

What issue or problem does this project address?

Beech and other clonal species (i.e., those that reproduce vegetatively via the root system) often interfere with commercially valuable hardwoods or reduce the availability of wildlife habitat.  Few options exist to economically and effectively control beech on small parcels.  Cut-stump herbicide treatments may provide a cost-effective tool to manage clonal species on small parcels

Project objectives

1.  Identify and refine applications for stem-selective treatments of herbicides that forest practitioners can use to control interfering vegetation.

2.  Increase the ability of forest practitioners to correctly select and apply the appropriate management technique for their forest and circumstances.

3.  Provide current and comprehensive educational materials to CCE educators who help forest practitioners maintain healthy forests.

Research and Extension Activities

  • Inspected plots from 2008 to determine impacts of cut-stump treatments using full strength Accord concentrate, 1:1 dilution, and a mixture of Garlon 4 and Stalker.  Results analyzed by undergraduate student intern Mark Baran.
  • Established plots on Cornell woodlands and collaborator research sites to compare the effects of resurfacing and hole drilling with the use of full strength Accord Concentrate.
  • Established plots on Cornell woodlands to compare the effects of cut-stump treatment applications to sapling sized trees on two grid configurations.  Grids were configured at 8’ x 8’ and 13’ x 13’ with the largest beech within 4.5 feet of the grid point cut and stump treated with full strength Accord concentrate.
  • Provided workshop and conference presentations for woodland owners, maple producers, and foresters at locations throughout NY.
  • Established pilot plots for use of maximum labeled applications of Garlon 4 at time of cutting and one day after cutting.

Project outcomes

Summary of findings:

  • The management options recommended based on this work and that of other forest scientists is provided in the beech management fact sheet linked below.
  • Mechanical controls of beech were not intensively studied, except as control plots.  Consistent with other efforts, cutting to control beech typically results in a proliferation of root sprouts.  Flame treatments to beech sapling resulted in beech death, but only after several years.  Flame treatments to saplings were not assessed for root sprout development.
  • The most cost effective and efficient way to control beech is when the management area has trees greater than 6” diameter breast height (dbh, 4.5’ above ground) that can be extracted for fuel wood.  Glyphosate is applied at a 25% active ingredient solution (always follow label instructions) to the outer two inch of cut surface.  Control of up to 85% of root sprouts is possible. 
  • Resurfacing of previously cut stumps become less effective in control of root suckers through time, with approximately 50% control of stumps resurfaced within 6 months of initial cutting.  Resurfacing controls almost all stump sprouts.
  • Other work has documented that basal bark treatments are most effective when there are fewer than 400 to 500 stems per acre and stem diameter is less than 6”.  If more than 500 stems per acre, a broadcast foliar treatment offers the best control, noting that broadcast treatments impact all ground level species.


Project reports or documents and other resources

Other materials that relate to this project

Picture 1. Dr. Paul Curtis talks with members of the Adirondack Chapter of the Society of American Foresters at the Adirondack League Club.  Research plots at ALC evaluated herbicide treatments to beech and the effects of deer exclusion fencing.  Photo by Mike Ashdown.


Picture 2. Dr. Peter Smallidge, project leader, applies glyphosate to the freshly cut stump of American beech.  Glyphosate is most effective if applied immediately after felling the tree.  Glyphosate is applied to the outer two inches of the cut stump.  Results indicate that a glyphosate concentration of approximate 25% is essentially as effective as the 53.8% concentrate.

Picture 3.  Cut stump treatments, or in this case a resurfacing of a one month old beech stump, require a chainsaw, personal protective equipment, and herbicides.  Because many loggers in NY are not certified applicators, techniques such as resurfacing and hole drilling were investigated in 2009 and 2010.

Picture 4. The effects of cut stump treatments on beech are evident within one month of treatments.  A comparison among research sites suggests that areas having approximately 75 or more beech saplings per acre greater than 3” diameter can significantly reduce the effectiveness of glyphosate treatments.


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