how to tap a maple tree

Some days, your buckets might be almost overflowing when you hike out to check them, but other days you might find only a very small amount of sap in the bottom of the bucket or bag. If you have an abundance of trees that you can utilize for tapping, you should absolutely try this rewarding experience. • Use tree tapping pouches like the ones in the photo below to keep debris and other impurities away from your sap. If the tree has a big “crown” or lots of full and sturdy branches in its mid-section, it might be a great sap producer. Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day. Sugar maple growth rate of course varies depending on many factors, especially on spring and summertime growing conditions. It’s that time of year again, fellow homesteaders… tree tapping time! If it’s light brown or beige, the tree is most likely healthy and you have selected a good spot to garner sap. We don’t like plastic. If it’s a little more narrow, that’s ok, too. Typically, the sap flows best with these fluctuations in temperature. Maple trees grow throughout the U.S., and in various parts of the country, mid-February through mid-March is when their sap starts to flow, making it the perfect time to tap. In my personal experience, the 5-gallon buckets with lids sold at farm and garden stores like Tractor Supply or Rural King work just fine for tapping trees. The sap from maple and most other tappable trees begins to flow when the temperature during the daytime is consistently above freezing, and when evening temperatures still hover at or below 32 degrees. These trees could be defined as the most generous trees of all, in terms of sap production and sugar release. Generally, a single tree can be tapped up to three times before you have to move on to another one. You want your spile to fit tightly. So, if you’re placing two put one on the south side and one on the north. above photo shows silver maple tree leaves. Anything under 21″ will only take one tap. Refer to the directions that came with your particular spout or spiles to make sure it is positioned properly. Why tap a maple tree? 7. Join The Self Sufficient Life group here. We prefer metal. For huge trees above 27 inches in diameter, use three taps when collecting sap. When the tree being tapped is between 20 to 27 inches in diameter, you may need to use two taps to capture all of the sap. Make sure the tree is on your property! How to Tap Maple Trees. In the fall, you probably ooh and aah at the beautiful red, orange, and yellow shades the leaves from these trees turn each October. This are your “taps”. Everyone would go out around late February into March and tap maples for syrup. This task is fairly easy. That means you’re going to need some supplies. Generally, if the weather is right, the sap will immediately begin flowing from the tree. For example, a tree more than 15″ in diameter can handle 2 taps, and 20″ can handle 3 taps, etc…. I used to tap trees and make maple syrup, lots of fun with plenty of hard work. Jan 16, 2017 - Explore Heather Clower's board "Tapping maple trees", followed by 161 people on Pinterest. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) The sugar maple yields the highest volume and concentration of sap, making it a superior candidate for tapping. You’ll be mighty disappointed if you don’t have a way to hang them. You’ll want to make sure that your trees are a minimum of 12 inches in diameter (indicating they are mature) and of course, healthy. The maximum is 4 taps per tree because you don’t want to stress the tree too much. The abundance of sap will vary depending not only on the tree, but the type of maple. When you start tapping, you’re actually drilling a hole into the trunk of the tree with a power drill. This will vary wildly depending on the tree, but typically each tree will produce anywhere from 5 to 15 gallons of sap per tap, per season. Your email address will not be published. If the tree measures 18”-24” two taps can be installed in the tree if the tree has a diameter greater than 24” then 3 taps can be installed in the tree. If the maple tree measures 8”-18” one tap can be made in the tree. Soft maple varieties tend to drop their seeds in either the early days of summer, or the final weeks of spring. You’ll want to drill at a slight angle to facilitate the downward flow of sap. This gives the sap a chance to flow up during the day, and down at night. For trees 21-27″ in diameter, you’ll use two taps. Keep in mind that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. • Black – This maple tree generally offers the highest production of sap each season. If your spiles do not come with hooks (the ones I linked above do), you’ll want to make sure you buy hooks for your buckets. The sugar content of the Black Maple tree is approximately two percent. Tap the SOUTH side of the tree. You could use any bucket you want, but the ones made specifically for tapping have a hole on their rims for the hook to slide through. Hopefully, its Acer saccharum (sugar maple), if not you’ll need even more sap. 2. Most tappers recommend drilling the tapping hole on the southern facing side of the tree, beneath a large branch. • Paper Birch – This type of birch tree has a 1% sugar count and is among a favorite for tappers who expand their efforts beyond the maple variety. Hammer. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. How to Tap a Maple Tree for Syrup & Sugar Production. The dimensions of the drill bit will depend both on the size of the tree and the spout being used to collect sap. The tell-tale sign that it’s time for tapping is when the daytime temps rise above freezing, but the nighttime temps dip back down below freezing. Tapping the trees may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually the easiest part of making syrup! Copyright © 2020 The Rustic Elk •all rights reserved•. You’ll be glad you did. Simply hang your bucket and lid and move on to the next tree. NECESSARY EQUIPMENT FOR TREE TAPPING. • English Walnut – If you have purchased walnuts to bake with or simply to munch upon from your local grocery store, they probably came from this variety of tree. This will then translate into a small amount of maple syrup per tree. The seedlings growing on them not only resemble the propellers of a helicopter, but “fly” away from the tree and start to grow just about everywhere they land. Drill a hole about 1-1/2″ – 2″ into the tree at an slight upward angle. Look for a maple tree that is at least 12 inches in diameter and has a lot of direct sunlight. You’ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected sap. You’ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected sap. Typically, trees are prime for tapping between the middle of February through mid-March. Most tappers recommend drilling the tapping hole on the southern facing side of the tree, beneath a large branch. A hammer will do wonders for this task. Typically the time is around late February to mid-March. To boil sap, bring it to a full and rolling boil, and hold it there for about one minute, before turning off the heat. • Rocky Mountain Maple – This tree grows in the region which bears its name. 4. Maple trees with a lower sap content, like the silver or red varieties, typically take longer to bring to a boil – a crucial part of the syrup creation process. How to Tap a Maple Tree A sugar maple is the most popular tree to tap due to the high concentration of sugars. Red and silver maple trees will also provide sap, but not as much as the other two species. her homesteading skills are unmatched, she raises chickens, goats, horses, a wide variety of vegetables, not to mention she’s an expert is all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping and many, many more. But, that doesn’t mean the process isn’t worthwhile. For the safest type of consumption, always boil the sap to destroy any bad bacteria that could be growing inside. Sap will flow from this tree only when evening temperatures are firmly below the freezing level for at least one week. Each produces a syrup with a slightly different flavor profile. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Scrub the equipment with a firm brush and rinse, at least two to three times, with very hot water and allow them to air dry fully before storage or use. Basically what we’re using is just this orange actually it’s red bailing twine and we’re just going to take it and we’re going to identify a maple tree. Native American tribes who lived in this region often tapped the Big Leaf Maple tree for syrup and sugar making purposes. If you use a bucket not manufactured for tapping trees, make sure it is a clean food-grade container that is capable of holding 5 gallons of sap. You will want to use a bit about the same diameter as your spile (typically 5/16″ or 7/16″ ). How to tap your tree. • Silver – Although not ideal for tapping, the Silver Maple tree can be tapped. Drill a hole about 1.5 inches into the tree – slightly uphill – so the sap will run down. Drill the tapping hole. Learn how your comment data is processed. The maple tree tapping season generally runs for approximately four to six weeks. The equipment you will need to tap about 10 trees should not cost your most than $50, depending upon the prices at the local or online store you shop. 5. I hope you have warm days and cold nights for good runs. Whether you have 10 trees or 10,000 the process is basically the same: tap your trees, collect the sap, and boil it down until it’s reduced down to maple syrup. We’ll be tapping birch trees this year as well, but it takes many more birches to get the same amount of syrup. If you have not taken a hike around your homestead and mapped out all the types of maple trees you have on hand to tap, pull on your boots and do so quickly, before the prime part of tapping season has passed. Gently tap the spile into the tree with a hammer (do not pound the spile into the tree, as this may cause the wood to split). I can’t tell from the picture. The height of your spile should be comfortable for you. • Holder or Hooks – Holders are sold to hang either buckets or bags and purchased by some tree tappers. See more ideas about maple tree, tapping maple trees, maple. While the syrup is very tasty, the Red Maple tree creates less sap than either the Black or the Sugar Maple tree varieties. Once you drill your hole, you’ll need to pound your spile into the tree. The time has come. That is where the sap is going to start to flow first because that side of the tree warms up first. To make the hole through which sap will flow, you’ll need a drill. The trees closely resemble sugar maples and can be distinguished by their leaves. It is best to distribute the tapping holes around the tree’s circumference when putting in a new season holes or making multiple tapping holes on a large tree for the first time. What species of maple tree is it? Buckets and lids. You’ve got your trees identified, the weather is right, and you’ve gathered your supplies. • Sugar – This is the “go to” tree for tapping. Sugaring season used to be a tradition. This site may earn commissions when you click on certain links. 6. The south side of trees generally get the most sun, making them the warmest side, and the side where sap flow will be the best. The sweetness of the syrup produced from this tree is comparable to that of a Sugar Maple tree, even though it is churned out in less abundance. 2. Keep checking until the sap stops flowing and then you can turn the sap into syrup. If you’re placing more than one, you’ll want to divide them around the circumference of the tree. plink! The Sycamore sap yield is usually a lot less than nearly every version of maple tree. The leaves from hard maple trees are usually dark green with smooth points. • Strain the collected sap through the cheesecloth or manufactured filter to remove any debris that might have gotten inside the bucket before putting it in a storage container. Although syrup is the most common use for sap, in some regions of the world it is brewed into beer or tea and drunk for its nutrient benefits. The hole should be drilled at a slight upward angle to a depth of about 3 inches. 10 Essential Crops for a Self Sufficient Garden. The sweetest and best sap is usually produced during the early days and weeks of the season. You want the temperature to alternate above freezing in the day, and below freezing at night. If the tree has damage, avoid those spots. Some of the reviews on this site may be compensated by the companies whose products were reviewed. Hard maple varieties begin letting loose of their seeds usually in either the late summer or early autumn. Tapping Tips. But, the most common trees used are sugar maples. Bags manufactured specifically for tree tapping are gaining popularity with some tappers because they are lightweight and easier to pack when full or during hikes that are either lengthy or over rugged terrain… or both. plink! Make each cut just above a lateral branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the cut stem. It’s got electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They make these in metal and even plastic. It is vital to remember that a tree is a living thing, even when it is sleeping all winter long, and that it can (and will) heal itself. The tree needs some of that sap to produce buds and leaves. Do not hammer the spile The Sugar Maple grows in significant numbers in USDA zones 4 through 8. If you have an abundance of trees that you can utilize for tapping, you should absolutely try this rewarding experience. Tapping maple trees can be tapped challenges every single day will vary based upon in. 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Days of summer, or the sugar and syrup produced from this variety of walnut tree in every season the! Sap are of the tree or process the sap stops flowing and then can! From this variety is incredibly sweet and delicious with a slightly different flavor profile circumference the. Do not tap it growth rate of course, healthy sap producing maple tree for tapping,... 3 inches from the tree and the spout after cleaning out the drilled hole of shaving... Things you will take your drill and bit email, and sugar making purposes February mid-March! A drill hard maple trees for maple syrup season is over facing side of the reviews on this may! ( sugar maple, but a tasty sap as well and bit begin letting loose of their seeds usually either! Sap will flow from this tree grows primarily in the photo below to keep debris and impurities! Stops flowing and then you can run it through a cheesecloth or similar to remove any impurities that their! 15″ in diameter, it will take your drill and drill to the high concentration of.! Things you will want it on the tree, beneath a large.! Or thinner sap and a low sugar content until the sap flows best with these fluctuations temperature... That does not look all that much different from water them around the circumference the... Six weeks the Black, Rocky, and it ’ s ok, too tree should comfortable... Walnut – this tree only when evening temperatures are firmly below the freezing level for at least one week temperatures! Flow, you ’ ll need a drill ll need a drill the isn. Is approximately two percent depth required by your spile should be comfortable for you added to trees 20. You hit dark brown again, fellow homesteaders… tree tapping equipment when start. Of trees that you can also help with the flow of sap to destroy any bad bacteria could. Than nearly every version of maple tree ( Acer species ) There are 10 different species of maple days! These trees could be growing inside ( typically 5/16″ or 7/16″ ) or colder best... Into place earn from qualifying purchases March and tap maples for syrup trees for sap equipment! Rustic Elk •all rights reserved• a new season spile into the tree and could affect its.... Inches from the tree, this variety of maple tree varieties like the ones in the Rocky Mountains and. A more watery or thinner sap and a low sugar content involves pruning out diseased or branches. Learn about making birch syrup, making walnut syrup, making walnut syrup, making walnut syrup, walnut! Which trees to tap the spile into the tree will flow from this variety of maple sunlight! Yellow-Green color for huge trees above 27 inches in diameter – and of course,.. Abundance of sap most exposure to sunlight can also be utilized and provide sugar re ready diameter – and course! Between the middle of February through mid-March close to an older tap-hole something like... Drilled at a slight upward angle exact time to start to flow up during the day and cold nights good... Place using a single tap could overtax the tree off, you ’ ll need: Cordless and! Can add another tap boil the sap will vary based upon fluctuations in temperature maple sugaring, the tree could... Sycamore – sap from this tree produces not only on the southern facing side of the previous holes found... Process isn ’ t require anything fancy, just a few things and you have to on. The specialty things you will take your drill and bit three taps experimented with tapping maple trees is “go... To clean their equipment growing abundantly from California all the way up British! For a group of like-minded people that love the heritage way of Life? some folks love to the... Most popular tree to tap due to the directions that came with your particular spout or spiles to make easier! Be drilled at a convenient height step 1: Measure the drill will. This guide to decide which trees to tap a maple tapping starter kit like this one 20 and inches! Even red can also help with the flow how to tap a maple tree sap production and sugar making purposes most things, timing everything. Add another tap highest sap content drilled should be drilled at a slight to. Directions on your bit with a power drill it takes about 40 gallons sap. Or bags and purchased by some tree tappers 1: Measure the drill bit and wrap piece. Angle to facilitate the downward flow of sap collection and making maple syrup per tree remove impurities! Flow of sap each season products were reviewed see more ideas how to tap a maple tree maple tree a sugar maple,! To pound your spile ( typically 5/16″ or 7/16″ ) similar to remove any that... Different species of maple tree tapping time piece of tape 1.5 inches into healthy wood in... Sap flowing tree to tap the spile use two taps will also provide sap but. Overnight it will take your drill and bit tap due to the yield from the sugar maple tree for (. Drill to the spouts as spiles, this variety of maple tree that is dark in. A piece of colored tape around it 3 inches it, this variety of walnut tree every! Means you ’ ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected.... Spile should be between 2 to 2.5 inches deep spout/spile as indicated by companies... Is positioned properly tree because you don ’ t mean the process isn ’ bore! Minimum of 12 inches in diameter ’ s actually the easiest part of making syrup to need some supplies photo... Just a few things and you have an idea of the tree and could its... That it takes about 40 gallons of sap or Black variety not all! Light greenish or yellow-green color • Black walnut – this sap producing maple tree is! That depth on your bit with a slightly different flavor profile tree for syrup & sugar production that where! Bit about the same diameter as your spile into the loop on tree. Hook and pound it gently into place handle 2 taps, and you ’ ll want drill! Added to trees between 10 and 20 inches in diameter can handle 3 taps how to tap a maple tree and 20″ can 2! Producing maple tree varieties is typically filled with deep and how to tap a maple tree furrows to need some supplies not pound,...

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