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Sweet Talk: All Things Maple

This ongoing podcast features interviews with researchers and educators about topics related to maple production and marketing.

Net-Zero Maple Syrup

An examination of why and how maple sugarmakers can make their operations carbon-neutral.

Why Does the Sap Stop Running After a Few Days if it Doesn’t Freeze Again?

Without a freeze, the flow of sap will continue to slow and eventually stop because there is no longer a difference between the pressure inside and outside of the tree. However, producers often observe an uptick in sap flow during the daytime over a few days. Why does this occur? Where did the extra sap come from? Typically, these short bursts of increased sap flow happen when the temperature warms over the next few days. The warm temperature causes gas bubbles in the wood fibers to expand and squeeze more water from the wood tissues, where it flows into the vessels and out through the taphole. This might occur for a couple of days, and eventually turn into slow weeping flows before ceasing entirely.

Innovations in Maple Sap Collection Systems: Increasing Yield in 5/16” Lateral Line Tubing

Vacuum and gravity “pull” sap down lateral lines. Friction “uses up” energy. The energy that is lost in this case is vacuum (gravity is constant). Reducing friction in the tubing system preserves energy and preserves vacuum further up the line. If making tubing larger or smoother due to cost or implementation issues, the next best way to reduce friction in tubing is to reduce turbulence, especially at fittings. This can be readily achieved through two simple modifications. The first method is to incorporate a bevel into the entrance and exit of all fittings. The second modification is to incorporate an arc where sap streams meet.

Effect of Climate Change on Maple Syrup Producers

While there are both good and bad impacts on maple syrup producers due to climate change, overall, the effects will be negative. On the plus side, longer summers mean longer growing seasons for maple trees. However, regionally this longer growing season will increasingly be accompanied by periods of extended drought – particularly in more southern latitudes. This in turn may hinder root growth and performance. As maple syrup producers we are aware that anything which negatively effects maple tree roots is a concern because the roots are the origin for sap movement in the spring.

Assessing Damage to Maple Sapwood Caused by Tapping

The area of stained sapwood associated with tapping or other wounds in maple trunks has long been interpreted to represent the area of wood that is compartmentalized, and thus unavailable for sap flow. We tested this interpretation by passing dye through maple stems that had been tapped and observing the area that was blocked. Our results indicate that the blocked portion of the trunk associated with a wound taphole is somewhat larger than the area which is visually compartmentalized (stained).

Innovations in Maple Sap Collection Systems: Spouts

Over the past five years we have examined several different approaches to reducing the restriction in sap flow from shallow tree rings in an attempt to increase sap yield and sugar content of collected sap. After exploratory research in 2018 and 2019, we settled upon a basic design starting in 2020 that in continued testing has proved successful. The two main features of this new spout include a shorter barrel and barbs.

Tapping Walnut Trees: Making Walnut Syrup for Fun or Profit

Everyone knows you can tap maple trees, boil down the sap and make maple syrup. Maple syrup on pancakes is a classic American breakfast. However, few people know that the same is true for other select species of trees. People in the sub-artic have for years tapped birch trees, both boiling the sap to make a sweet syrup and consuming it raw as a health drink. Walnut trees are on that list of those select other species. Members of the Juglans genus, black walnut (Juglans nigra), white walnut or butternut (J. cinerea) and English walnut (J. regia) have all been tapped for syrup production. This walnut syrup primer will get you on either the commercial or the hobbyist path.

Mappleau: A Maple Liqueur

Mappleau (pronounced “mah-ploh”) is a maple-derived liqueur made from distilled maple wine and sweetened with pure maple syrup. Its manufacturing process and its namesake are inspired by Pommeau, a barrel-aged French liqueur made from fresh apple cider and apple brandy (hard cider that has been distilled). There are a few different production methods that achieve different flavor profiles. For oak-influence, the distilled maple wine, i.e., maple brandy, can be back sweetened with barrel-aged maple syrup, and/or the sweet Mappleau can be aged in various types of barrels (e.g., new oak, bourbon, wine, brandy, etc.). Alternatively, unoaked syrup can be used for back sweetening for a lighter flavor profile, and the Mappleau can be aged in a neutral vessel (e.g., stainless steel).

Foresters’ Approach to Sugarbush Management in the Northeast U.S.

This research is focused on a first of its kind survey of professional foresters with the goal of not only understanding the technical approaches foresters use when working in sugarbushes, but also how the surveyed foresters view sugarbush management compared to managing stands for other forest products.