We had two objectives in the study of sugar maples which showed signs of decline and stress on a roadside where deicing salt was used in the winter. One goal was to determine if tree stress is related to the levels offsodium and chloride in their sap and in the groundwater and soil around their roots; and, if so, to develop methodology approved by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) that would allow any laboratory to use a standard method to assess maple tree decline due to sodium and chloride effect. The second goal was to evaluate the quality of the syrup processed from sap aseptically collected from maples in decline. We are updating here the later objective of the project that is of interest to the sugar maple producers.
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Dr. Abby van den Berg, Research Associate Professor with UVM’s Department of Plant Biology and Proctor Maple Research Center, shares the results of a multi-year experiment conducted by the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center to determine the net yields and impacts of fall and early-winter tapping, with and without subsequent “freshening” of the tapholes by re-drilling them wider and/or deeper.
In 1998, fifteen managed sugar bush blocks with 7% to 72% ice-induced crown damage were established in eastern Ontario. Results suggest that severe ice storm damage to crowns resulted in reduced fall root starch levels and less sap production, and/or sap sweetness, and therefore lowered the syrup producing capacity of sugar maple.
In 1998, fifteen managed sugar bush blocks with 7% to 72% ice-induced crown damage were established in eastern Ontario. All blocks received dolomitic lime (calcium and magnesium) and phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) treatments in June 1999. Initial crown damage, fall root starch, sap production and sweetness were all measured. Syrup production was calculated.
In mid-April 2010, an invitation to participate in a survey was sent to subscribers of two maple forums. The survey was designed to get some basic information about the operations of the respondents, to describe sanitation practices (changing tubing, spouts, etc.) and to get feedback from users about the Leader Check-valve adapter.
During the 2011 maple sap season a variety of research trials were conducted at the Arnot Forest of Cornell University and in the woods of a number of cooperators both with vacuum and gravity systems. Research conducted over the last five years has shown that significant increases in sap yield can be obtained by keeping the tap hole from contamination by bacteria and yeast.
In 2012 a variety of spout and tubing cleaning and replacement options were tested to determine the extent of sap yield changes. These tests were done at the Cornell Arnot Research Forest.
In 2013 a variety of spout and tubing cleaning and replacement options were tested to determine the extent of sap yield changes that would result. Most of these tests were done at the Cornell Arnot Research Forest.
In 2014 and 2015 the focus of the tubing and taphole sanitation research changed dramatically. Tests conducted in 2013 showed that if the spout and drop line were adequately sanitized sap yield comparable to a new spout and drop could be obtained. With the assistance of a grant from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension program of the USDA and in cooperation with the Proctor Maple Research Center in Vermont, a variety of spout and drop cleaning and replacement options were tested to determine the extent of sap yield changes.
During the 2015 maple sap season the Cornell Maple Program conducted a small trial, testing sap yield from 5/16″ tubing vs. 3/16″ tubing. This trial was not conducted at the Arnot Research forest but with a small maple operation cooperator. The tubing system consisted of six lateral lines, three 5/16″ and three 3/16″ alternating between the two treatments across the hillside.