Identifying Sustainable Practices for Tapping and Sap Collection from Birch Trees: Optimum Timing of Tapping Initiation and the Volume of Nonconductive Wood Associated with Taphole Wounds

Experiments were conducted to determine two pieces of information essential to identify practices necessary to ensure tapping trees for birch sap collection is both sustainable and profitableƑthe selection of the time to initiate tapping birch trees to obtain maximum yields, and the volume of nonconductive wood (NCW) associated with taphole wounds in birch trees. The yields obtained from various timing treatments varied between sapflow seasons, but indicate that using test tapholes to choose the appropriate time to initiate tapping is likely to result in optimum yields from birch trees. The volume of NCW associated with taphole wounds in birch trees was highly variable and generally quite large, averaging 220 times the volume of the taphole drilled, and requiring relatively high radial growth rates to maintain NCW at sustainable levels over the long-term. However, more conservative tapping practices, including reduced taphole depth and increased dropline length, as well as thinning and other stand management practices, can be used to reduce the minimum growth rates required. Producers can use this information to ensure that they use tapping practices that will result in sustainable outcomes and obtain the maximum possible sap yields from their trees.

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