Buddy off-flavour is an annual, natural occurrence that has been well recognized since the dawn of commercial maple production in the late 19th century. As we began our investigation there were two basic ideas for the sudden appearance of buddy syrup. The first was that heating sap containing elevated levels of particular amino acids produced compounds (pyrazines) that contributed to buddy off flavour. A more recent idea has been that yeasts in the sap convert sulfur-containing amino acids into compounds that explain the off flavours.
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Tapping trees creates a wound that the trees are usually able to heal. But what is the impact of tapping on trees?
The 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture reveals trends in growth for number of producers and number of taps in many states.
As the maple industry has grown, so too has the use of plastic sap tubing. Solutions are needed to help producers dispose of tubing when it is past its useful life, in ways that ensure it is not merely ending up in landfills.
Thoughts and data on how setting taps on different aspects of a tree can impact sap yield.
Many researchers, in addition to many sugarmakers, have observed that there is a great range in the amount of sap produced from individual trees in a forest. Understanding, and perhaps predicting the different performances of the trees in a sugarbush is an aspect of maple physiology that remains fascinating.
In order to survive, trees must overcome their injuries. But technically they donÕt heal their wounds, at least not the way that human and animal bodies repair, restore, or replace damaged cells or tissue. Trees are built in layers of cells that are bound by rigid walls in a modular, compartmented way. This structure dictates their wound response.
In response to injury from wounds such as tapholes, trees initiate processes to compartmentalize the affected area in order to prevent the spread of infection by disease- and decay-causing microorganisms beyond the wound, and to preserve the remaining sap conducting system (Shigo 1984). This results in the formation of a column of visibly stained wood above and below the wound, and the affected zone is rendered permanently nonconductive to water and nonproductive for sap collection. These processes, along with effects from microbial activity, are responsible for the gradual reduction in sap flow from tapholes over the course of the production season. There has been recent renewed interest in strategies which attempt to extend the standard sapflow season or increase overall yields through the “rejuvenation” of tapholes. As part of a multi-year experiment to investigate the yields and net economic outcomes of several taphole longevity strategies, we conducted an experiment to investigate the volume of NCW generated in response to two of these strategies.