Late summer, while leaves are still green is a good time to assess the trees in your sugarbush. Weak or declining individuals will show areas of crown dieback. Trees with more than 75% dieback will likely not survive but are still competing for light, water and nutrients with healthier crop trees and should be considered for removal. Flagging potential trees to cut is a good way to plan what needs to happen. Remember that doing a little overtime is better and has less risk of damaging the sugarbush than doing the work all at once. Trees that have grown up with other trees for support and lack a strong root system need time to adjust to the increased growing space. Individuals could be lost to wind or be subject to root damage and sunscald if too many adjacent trees are removed all at once. Opening 1 or 2 sides of a given crop tree balances the benefits of increased light while reducing the risk of a catastrophic loss. Above all, remember that safety is the number one priority when working in the woods.