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Exudation Pressure in Maple Trees: Comparing Simulations with Experiments

Exudation is the process whereby trees can generate a large positive pressure in stems or roots during months when the tree is leafless and mostly dormant and temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing. This article aims to provide an update on recent modelling efforts
in combination with experimental measurements from red/sugar maple trees at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center that validate the model results.

A Mathematical Model for Maple Sap Exudation

Sap exudation refers to the process whereby sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum) are capable of generating significant stem pressure in a leafless state, something that occurs to a lesser extent in only a few other related species such as birch and walnut. This exudation pressure is what causes maple sap to flow from a taphole in sufficient quantities to be harvested and processed into syrup. Exudation has been studied for well over 100 years and has been the subject of many scientific studies, but there is as yet no definitive explanation for how such large pressures can be generated in the absence of transpiration (i.e., when no photosynthesis occurs to drive the flow of sap).