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Performance of Sugar Maple Taxa (Acer saccharum Marsh.) in North Alabama




Blackwood, Kenneth

Type of Degree





A sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) variety trial was initiated in March, 1999 at the North Alabama Horticulture Substation in Cullman, Ala. (USDA Zone 7). The purpose of the study was to identify superior sugar maple selections for landscape use in the Southeastern region of the United States, to evaluate growth (height and caliper increase), foliage characteristics (mean leaf area, petiole length, and chlorophyll content), and determine tolerance to the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica Newman). The study includes 22 sugar maple selections planted on a 6.1 m x 6.1 m (20 ft x 20 ft) spacing and fertilized with 454 g 13-13-13 per 2.54 cm (1 lb per 1 inch) of diameter at planting and in subsequent years in the winter months prior to budbreak. The study includes nineteen cultivars (‘Astis’ (Steeple™), ‘Autumn Faith’, ‘Autumn Blush’, ‘Barrett Cole’ (Apollo™), ‘Bonfire’ (Bonfire™), ‘Commemoration’, ‘Endowment’, ‘Fairview’ (Fairview™), ‘Fall Fiesta’ (Fall Fiesta™), ‘Flax Mill Majesty’, ‘Goldspire’, ‘Green Mountain’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Morton’ (Crescendo™), ‘Reba’ (Belle Tower™), ‘Seneca Chief’, ‘Sugar Queen’, ‘Sweet Shadow Cut-Leaf’, and ‘Moraine’ (Wright Brothers™); and three sugar maple seedling selections (from A. McGill and Sons Nurseries, Gervais, OR; Ellenburg Nursery, Baileyton, AL; and J. Frank Schmidt and Son Nurseries, Boring, OR). ‘Seneca Chief’ had the greatest height increase at 73.41 cm (28.9 in.) while ‘Barrett Cole’ had the least annual height increase at 14.22 cm (5.6 in.). The largest caliper increase occurred with Ellenburg, a southern seedling source at 1.35 cm (0.5 in.) annual increase. Cultivars ‘Barrett Cole’ and ‘Endowment’ had the smallest caliper increase at 0.64 cm (0.25 in.) and 0.66 cm (0.26 in.), respectively. ‘Goldspire’ and the A. McGill seedling selection had the largest leaves followed closely by cultivar ‘Green Mountain’. ‘Commemoration’ had the smallest leaves. ‘Green Mountain’ had the longest petioles at 13.1 cm (5.2 in.). ‘Morton’ had the shortest petioles at 6.7 cm (2.6 in.). ‘Barrett Cole’, ‘Autumn Blush’ and ‘Reba’ had the least damage from Japanese Beetle, neither cultivar having any visible beetle damage. ‘Fairview’ ranked last with the greatest Japanese Beetle damage in this study with 2.8 from a possible 3.0 damage rating. ‘Sweet Shadow Cut-Leaf’, with the most distinctive leaf of any selection in the study, ‘Autumn Faith’, ‘Green Mountain’, and ‘Reba’ had the highest chlorophyll content as determined by the SPAD-502 Leaf Greenness Meter. Using a Rating Index, the top five selections in our study were ‘Green Mountain’, ‘Reba’, ‘Autumn Blush’, ‘Sugar Queen’ and ‘Bonfire’. The selections with the poorest performance in our study, to date, were ‘Barrett Cole’, ‘Commemoration’, ‘Fairview’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Morton’, and ‘Moraine’.