Ten years ago, 3/16” diameter tubing was introduced to the marketplace as an alternative tubing to 5/16” diameter tubing. However, recent research shows that sap production in 3/16” tubing drops off as soon as the second year after installation due to microbial growth. A replacement for 3/16” diameter tubing in gravity systems could be 1/4” tubing. With almost twice the aperture of 3/16” tubing (0.049 sq inches compared to 0.0275 sq inches), 1/4″ inch tubing is less likely to plug from microbes yet is still able to create a full column of sap for gravity vacuum. Quarter-inch tubing is currently not available for maple producers but can be procured from other industries and, with modifications, will work for maple production.
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Should I use 3/16″ or 5/16″ tubing? One of the first questions maple producers face when deciding to tube (or retube) a sugarbush is whether to use 3/16″ or 5/16″ tubing. This article explains some of the general rules that can be helpful in narrowing down the pros and cons of each approach.
There has been a lot of interest in 3/16″ tubing over the past several years. This article describes research results and possible future directions.