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Tamarack

| Description | Products and Uses | Site Conditions |
| Regeneration | Immediate Treatments | Pests and Diseases |

Description

Range of tamarack Tamarack or eastern larch (Figure 6-16) is found in pure stands, but more commonly appears in mixed stands with black spruce, northern white-cedar, black ash, red maple, eastern white pine, or paper birch. Tamarack stands usually are even-aged.

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Products and Uses

Tamarack is used for pulp, poles, and lumber, although it has relatively minor economic importance. Red squirrel, snowshoe hare, and porcupine are found in tamarack stands. Tamaracks provide habitat for many songbirds and are critical habitat for the great gray owl and its small mammal prey species.

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Site Conditions

Tamarack commonly grows on peatland where the organic soil or peat is more than 12 inches deep. It occurs on a wide range of peatlands, but is most characteristic of poor swamps where soil water is weakly enriched with mineral nutrients. Tamarack and black spruce on a wet siteThe best sites are moist, well-drained loamy soils along streams, lakes, or swamps, and mineral soils with a shallow surface layer of organic matter. It grows well on upland sites, but is quickly eliminated by competition from more shade-tolerant species. Tamarack will not survive prolonged flooding. Site index curves for tamarack are shown in Appendix B-12.

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Regeneration

The regeneration system recommended for tamarack stands is a combination of clearcut and seed-tree with natural seeding. Good seed years occur every 3 to 6 years starting when trees are about 40 years old. The best seedbed is a warm, moist mineral or organic soil with no brush, but a light cover of grass or other herbaceous vegetation. Hummocks of slow-growing sphagnum moss often make good seedbeds. Most seeds fall within 200 feet of the seed tree.

Tamarack needles and conesHarvest strips should be oriented perpendicular to the wind and may be up to 200 feet wide. After clearcutting the first strip, wait about 10 years or until the area is well stocked with seedlings, then clearcut a second strip adjacent to the first and on the windward side. Again wait until regeneration is established, then use the seed-tree method to cut the remaining strip. The seed-tree cut should leave about ten well-spaced dominant tamaracks an acre. Once the regeneration is established, harvest or kill the seed trees.

You may need to prepare the site following a harvest to ensure tamarack regeneration. Broadcast burn mixed species stands to remove slash. Since tamarack slash does not burn well, harvest pure tamarack stands by full-tree skidding to remove slash, then treat the brush with herbicides. Alternatively, you could pile and burn the slash or shear or chop the brush.

Tamarack seedlings need abundant light and constant moisture. Seedlings established under a fully stocked stand will not survive beyond about the sixth year. Early seedling losses are caused by damping-off fungus, drought, flooding, inadequate light, and snowshoe hares. Given enough light, tamarack is one of the fastest growing conifers on upland sites.

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Intermediate Treatments

Thinning is economically feasible only on good sites when the objective is to produce poles or saw-timber. If a market exists for small products such as posts or pulpwood, make a commercial thinning as soon as the stand produces these products. 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 an acre.

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Pests and Diseases

The larch sawfly is a serious insect pest that can kill tamaracks after several years of defoliation. Chemical control may be required to manage sawfly populations Because there is no effective cultural control. Bark beetles can kill tamaracks that are stressed by defoliation or competition in densely stocked stands. Tamaracks also are susceptible to root and heart rots. Minimize rots by avoiding damage during intermediate cuttings. Porcupines can cause extensive damage by feeding on the bark of the main stem.

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