Sugar Maple Sap is on the Run!!
If you live in NW Wisconsin, this is the time of year when, you will see buckets hanging from trees. The trees are sugar maples and the sap is sweet and running up the trees from the roots to get the spring leaf buds going. The sap runs when the days are in the 40s and 50s and the nights are below freezing drawing the sap back down into the roots. The cycle begins again when the temp once again rises and will last until night time temps are above freezing and the leaf buds open out.
If you have a sugar maple tree that you want to try to tap, get yourself a 5/16 inch drill bit, a cordless or hand drill, a hammer, a tapping spile and a bucket with handles. White plastic food grade buckets work well. Mark 2 inches on your drill bit with a marker or a piece of tape.
Note: you will also need a sugar maple tree at least ten inches in diameter.
On the south or west side of the tree about four feet off the ground, drill your hole at a slight upward angle, tap in your spile gently so as not to go too deep or split the bark then hang your bucket. The sap will appear watery and colorless or almost colorless and only slightly sweet. Check your bucket daily or more often if the sap is really on the move or your bucket is small. You will need to change out the bucket or empty it into another when it is full. The bucket will be very heavy if left to fill up to the top so change it out while you are still able to handle the weight.
If the outdoor temp is above 45, store your sap, covered, where it will stay colder. A sheltered shed or garage that stays colder will do fine.
You will need 10 gallons of sap to make 1 quart of syrup. You can place up to 4 taps per tree if it is at least 25 inches in diameter. When you have all the sap you need or the sap is changing color or nighttime temps no longer drop below freezing, simply pull out the spile, the tree will heal up in a few weeks. Don't reuse the hole next year.
More info on tapping your sugar maple trees:
Next time: Making Maple Syrup
Article by Pam Davies MGV
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