Wood Mechanical Properties and Discoloured Heartwood Proportion in Sugar Maple and Yellow Birch Grown in New Brunswick

Isabelle Duchesne, Manon Vincent, Xiaodong (Alice) Wang, Chhun-Huor Ung, D. Edwin Swift


Rising interest in using wood in non-residential multi-story building structures opens up new opportunities for utilising low-grade hardwoods. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the geographic variation in modulus of elasticity (MOE) and modulus of rupture (MOR) of sugar maple and yellow birch wood in relation to stand and tree characteristics for two regions in New Brunswick, Canada. Mixed effects statistical models were developed to test the effects of stand, tree, and wood sample variables. A second objective was to examine geographic variation in heartwood discolouration in relation to stand and tree characteristics. Between-tree differences (trees nested within sites) accounted for 44% and 35% of the total variation in yellow birch (MOE and MOR, respectively) and for 69% and 60% of total variation in sugar maple. The fixed effects explained only a very small part for the variation in MOE and MOR in the sugar maple data (10% for MOE and 5% for MOR). For sugar maple, mechanical properties (MOE and MOR) at 50% of the radius were considerably lower than those close to the bark, but this radial variation was not noteworthy for yellow birch. Discoloured heartwood proportion had no significant effect on wood mechanical properties.


Low-grade hardwoods; End-use suitability; MOE; MOR; Sugar maple; Yellow birch; Statistical models; Geographic variation

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