Sap flow is only part of what determines the total amount of syrup made (and how much money ends up in a syrup producer’s pocket). New research suggests sugar makers may be advised to look to their trees’ canopies as well as the weather forecast if they want to predict the tapping season.
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The Jones “Rule of 86” was devised in 1946 by C.H. Jones, a scientist and educator at the University of Vermont. The gist of the rule is that ifone divides 86 by the sugar content of sap, you can estimate the amount of sap required to produce a gallon of syrup.
Root starch has been used to estimate tree vigor and health with some success. A visual method of starch determination similar to that already used for roots has been undertaken for twigs. If successful, this method would simplify the process of assessing overall tree health and vigor in sugar maple trees.
While it is possible to identify sweet trees through sap testing, the reasons why certain trees are sweet may be mostly genetic, and finding those genes may be no easy matter.
Forty two upland sugar maple trees and 59 riparian silver maples were tapped in 2003 to characterize their sap sugar parameters within the southern Illinois region.