Work done at the Uihlein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid during the 2018 and 2019 maple syrup season looked at timing of tapping to best capture the most amount of sap. During this study it was found that trees tapped in late March did not yield as much syrup since they missed early sap runs. Trees tapped in January were able to capture early season sap runs but yield diminished slightly near the end of the season due to microbial plugging.
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Increasing the yield of sap from maple trees is the goal of most maple producers. While getting there isnÕt a matter of one simple thing, by following best management practices and paying attention to detail it is possible to increase sap yields, often quite dramatically.
During the 2019 sap season, Future Generations University, with funding from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, began a series of tapping studies on tree species other than maple. We tapped and made syrup from black walnut trees. We had trouble developing the expected natural vacuum on the 3/16-inch lines, even though they had plenty of slope. We assumed that the problem was related to vacuum leaks associated with a poor seal in the soft wood with the minimally tapered spouts.
A handbook for beginning sugarmakers, covering the basics of tree identification, sap collection, boiling, and more.
One of the more common questions producers have when about tapping maple trees is Òhow deep should spouts be driven in to the taphole?Ó. Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer, since different spouts have different dimensions, variable degrees of taper and steps, and are made of different materials with dissimilar degrees of Òstickiness.Ó Regardless, the importance of driving spouts in to the proper depth is readily apparent: if spouts are driven too shallow there is a risk that spouts can leak vacuum or heave easily during freezes, but if driven too deeply, small cracks may form which cause liquid and vacuum leaks or alternatively, the reduced amount of exposed wood surface area inside the taphole caused by driving spouts in too deeply may reduce sap collection.
In order to determine the optimal approach to sap collection in their operation, maple producers need to be informed about how the choices they make will affect sap yield. One of the decisions they face is what spout size (diameter) to use.
Accepted tapping practices for 7/16 inch spouts with no vacuum called for tap holes to be drilled 2-2.5 inches deep. Later practices for 5/16 inch spouts under vacuum, call for drilling the tree to a depth of 1.5 inches. The reason for the reduction in depth, was to reduce the occurrence of drilling into dead wood, especially on trees with a long history of tapping. This can lead to reduced sap yield. When the 2018 season left us with an unusually low sap yield, the question arose: does tap depth matter when the system is under vacuum?
Documents experiments conducted by Cornell researchers involving re-tapping mid-season.
Manuals and trainings for H2O equipment and management practices
Practical information for sugarmakers in Holmes County, Ohio.