What I am proposing in this article is that woodland owners consider sap and syrup production as a way to increase the financial benefits derived from their forest resource by tapping their trees, and increase the fun in owning a woodlot with a good “sugarin off” party.
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In recent years, research at Cornell University’s Uihlein Maple Research Forest has looked at ways to maximize maple sap production through tapping practices such as spout selection, re-tapping and timing of tapping.
This aim of this project was to determine whether early spout and dropline deployment before tapping could be used while maintaining good sanitation levels and high sap yields.
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is a tree to consider tapping, and Butternut (Juglans cinerea) has similar characteristics and can produce syrup. When considering tapping, however, it is good to understood that walnut trees and not just maples with compound leaves and big edible nuts. Walnuts have anatomical and physiological characteristics that affect tapping and syrup making.
During the 2021 season, the UVM Proctor Center tested SapSpy (www.sapspy.com), a relatively new entrant in the sugarbush monitoring field.
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.
Annual data on US maple production.
Comprehensive video on how to make the most of your sugaring season, covering tapping, tubing, and efficient boiling.
Maple producers know that when the temperature starts to rise in the spring, sap flows can’t be far behind. But when the weather starts to warm early in the spring and temperatures seem favorable for good sap flows, they are sometimes left wondering why the sap hasn’t started to run. There are several explanations for the disconnect between warm air temperature and a lack of flow during
the early season.
How does a tree respond to the wound created by a taphole, and what does that mean for future sap production?