The advent of plastic tubing systems to collect sap has eliminated several problems associated with the traditional bucket system. However, plastic tubing systems also present some problems of their own. Sap quality problems arise if the lines sag and the sap lingers within the tubings or the large conduits. In addition, the warming effect of the sun increases the tem perature within the tubing to optimum levels for microbial growth and sap flow may decrease because of “organic buildup” on the internal tubing walls. This buildup is a result of the adhesion of microorganisms to the tubing walls.
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In March and April 1983, 289 and 196 young grafted sugar maple trees were tapped and evaluated for sap-sugar content. In April, sap was collected from taps both above and below the graft union. Diameter of all tapped trees at 18 inches above the ground was measured. Analysis of the data revealed that: (1) trees selected for high sugar yield cannot be reproduced by grafting on rootstock of unknown but varying sugar content without encountering large fluctuations in sap sweetness of the trees produced; (2) diameter is not correlated with sap sweetness of young grafted trees; (3) numerous sap-sugar readings over time may be necessary to identify the sap sugar characteristics of a candidate sweet tree; and (4) the cause of the variation in sap-sugar content of trees over time needs to be investigated more fully.
A study of how sap moves in maple trees
We initiated a controlled test of the effect of in-line UV light on the microorganisms in free-flowing sugar maple sap that had not been treated by PFA pellets at the taphole. We also wanted to test the effect of temperature-controlled sap storage for five intervals up to 7 days (167 h) prior to processing to syrup.
Maple syrup made from sap collected using improperly or carelessly installed plastic pipelines varied more in color from day to day, and was more often darker in color, than sap collected from either the property installed pipeline or clean, frequently emptied galvanized buckets. Use of both properly installed tubing and buckets, following recommended procedures, produced light colored syrup of equal quality throughout the entire maple syrup season.
Some maple sap producers have wondered whether they could increase the total sap yields by tapping their trees not only in the sprint but also in the fall too. Our research indicates that tapping in the fall cannot be recommended.
The sugar concentrations and the volume yields of Acer saccharum Marsh. sap from trees with single tapholes both show large variations from year to year and during sap flow seasons. Daily measurements of sugar concentration and volume yield from 29 trees for 18 years show consistent patterns. High sugar concentrations and high volume yields are characteristic of some trees; lower sugar concentrations and smaller volume yields are characteristic of other trees. A regression analysis shows a highly significant relationship between sugar concentration and volume yield in individual trees.
A knowledge of variation in sugar content is significant in any program aiming at improvement of existing maple stands. Certainly a factor which cannot be overlooked in making thinning recommendations for a producing stand is the sap quality of the maple trees under consideration. Respective yields, which are related to sugar content of sap as well as to amount of sap produced, must be taken into account.