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.
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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.
Documents experiments conducted by Cornell researchers involving re-tapping mid-season.
The University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center and the Cornell Maple Program Arnot Forest conducted a multi-year study examining several common sanitation strategies and assessing the effects on sap yield, attendant costs, and resulting net profits. The following graphs briefly summarize the results of this work.
These 9 variables are intended to help a potential commercial maple producer evaluate the relative merits of one or more selected woods for profitable maple production. A poor or medium rating does not mean that the woods should not be tapped but that production costs in money or labor will likely be higher or greater investments will be necessary to allow the sap collection to be established relative to other sites. Some problems may be avoided if the potential producer is a creative problem solver. Small-scale producers and hobby producers have less emphasis on financial return, so these variables are relevant but perhaps not weighted as heavily.
The primary use for this guide is to assist maple operations in developing a basic plan used to secure funding for start-up, expansion, and operating loans as well as a basic framework to begin considering the income and expenses incurred as the operation develops.
An important part of beginning or improving the tubing system in a maple enterprise is to have a good estimate of just how much the project will cost. Though there are many variables in installing a new or replacing an old system the cost of materials is predictable. Two factors allow you to make a reasonable estimate of what a sap collection system will cost in materials. The first is the number of taps per acre. The second is the density of trees.