Tap in the spout good and snug – … Trimming maple trees involves pruning out diseased or broken branches at least 6 inches into healthy wood. Note: when done properly, tapping won’t harm your tree, and the hole you make will heal up nicely on its own. 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. If the tree shavings have a dark brown hue, you have probably discovered a bad spot in the tree and need to locate the sap collection hole in another location on the same tree. To make the hole through which sap will flow, you’ll need a drill. above photo shows a sugar maple tree leaf. For huge trees above 27 inches in diameter, use three taps when collecting sap. 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. Their leaves are either silver or white on the bottom, and boast a more pointy shape than the leaves from hard maple tree varieties. • Use tree tapping pouches like the ones in the photo below to keep debris and other impurities away from your sap. Black maple (Acer nigrum) Black maples produce as much sweet sap as sugar maples. The maximum is 4 taps per tree because you don’t want to stress the tree too much. Look for a maple tree that is at least 12 inches in diameter and has a lot of direct sunlight. 4. Want to branch out from maple? The maple tree tapping season generally runs for approximately four to six weeks. 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. above photo shows silver maple tree leaves. Insert the spout after cleaning out the drilled hole of all shaving. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. • If this is your first time tapping a tree for syrup, do not be startled by the color of the fluid running out of the tree. For the safest type of consumption, always boil the sap to destroy any bad bacteria that could be growing inside. You’ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected sap. You could also get a maple tapping starter kit that has all of the specialty things you will need. 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. Simply hang your bucket and lid and move on to the next tree. Drill a hole about 1.5 inches into the tree – slightly uphill – so the sap will run down. You’ll want to drill your tap hole on the south-facing side of the tree. If you’ve tapped the tree in previous years, do not tap within 6″ of the previous holes. Any kind of maple tree can be tapped, but the best sap comes from sugar maples, tapped in spring. If you hit dark brown again, it may not be worth your time and effort to try to tap the tree. • Silver – Although not ideal for tapping, the Silver Maple tree can be tapped. The bark on soft maple tree varieties feature bark that can best be described as flaky, and comprised of layers in a lighter shade of gray, usually. When you tap a tree in the spring, it is the equivalent to a human getting a small cut, which will will slowly scar over to stop the loss of bodily fluids. This are your “taps”. The size of the drill bit depends on the size of your tap (also known as a spile). This warming temps create pressure within the tree, which generates the flow of sap. The European, black, river, gray, white, and yellow birch trees can also be tapped, but the sap they each produce is not generally nearly as sweet as the sap that flows from the Paper Birch tree. We’ll be tapping birch trees this year as well, but it takes many more birches to get the same amount of syrup. • Rocky Mountain Maple – This tree grows in the region which bears its name. We don’t like plastic. Tapping maple trees can be a fun, rewarding experience. Unless you purchase a maple sugar starter kit like this one. 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. Hang your bucket or bag on the tree – this is usually done by hanging it onto the hook facing outward on the spout, but not all spouts and spiles come with a hook. The sap turned into syrup from this tree is typically deemed just as sweet as the sap created by the Sugar Maple tree – and there is usually about twice as much of it. The goal of Tap My Trees is to promote tapping maple trees by families at … 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. Hooks. Ideally, you will want to put the spile above a big root or below a big branch to get the most sap out of the tree. For example, a tree more than 15″ in diameter can handle 2 taps, and 20″ can handle 3 taps, etc…. The season usually lasts about a month to a month and a half is all and the most sap will flow earliest in the season. 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. • Black Walnut – This tree produces not only delicious nuts, but a tasty sap as well. 2. A hammer will do wonders for this task. Hard maple varieties begin letting loose of their seeds usually in either the late summer or early autumn. Hey there! It’s that time of year again, when the sweet sounds of spring fill Bronte Creek Provincial Park : the twittering of returning songbirds, the laughter of visitors strolling through the woods, and the plink! 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. We are enrolled in the Amazon Associates program, so we may earn a commission if you purchase something from Amazon after clicking one of our links. You’ve found the trees, you have an idea of the timing. Make each cut just above a lateral branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the cut stem. If you have an abundance of trees that you can utilize for tapping, you should absolutely try this rewarding experience. How to Tap Trees Drill a hole in a tree, 2 - 4 feet above the ground. The leaves from hard maple trees are usually dark green with smooth points. 3. And if the shavings are a dark brown when you drill into it, pick a different spot (the shavings should be light brown). 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. Hard maple tree varieties like the black, rocky, and sugar maple, typically produce the highest sap content. Drill the tapping hole. 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. You need to make sure you’re ready. You’ve got your trees identified, the weather is right, and you’ve gathered your supplies. • Big Leaf – These maple trees are routinely found growing abundantly from California all the way up to British Columbia. You tap maple trees in the spring when the temperatures are getting warmer. Tapping maple trees is relatively straightforward, and it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy. Many tappers simply make their own simple hooks to hang the sap collection buckets or bags upon or use a spout that comes with a hook attached for the bucket. We are the leading site for home based maple sugaring, the process of sap collection and making maple syrup. Learn how your comment data is processed. Most tappers recommend drilling the tapping hole on the southern facing side of the tree, beneath a large branch. Wasting time is definitely not something homesteaders like to do! Sugaring season used to be a tradition. This variety of maple tree does not produce as much sap as the Sugar Maple, but is often considered just as sweet. Required fields are marked *. Drill a level, horizontal 2’’ deep hole at a convenient height. Lightly tap the spile into the hole. 2. Generally, a single tree can be tapped up to three times before you have to move on to another one. If you have an abundance of trees that you can utilize for tapping, you should absolutely try this rewarding experience. Some of the reviews on this site may be compensated by the companies whose products were reviewed. You’ll need: Cordless Drill and bit. You want the temperature to alternate above freezing in the day, and below freezing at night. That means you’re going to need some supplies. The bark on hard maple tree varieties is typically filled with deep and narrow furrows. • Big Tooth Maple – This sap producing maple tree grows primarily in the Rocky Mountains region and in Texas. A second tap may be added to trees between 20 and 25 inches in diameter. Typically, the sap flows best with these fluctuations in temperature. Always clean the tree tapping equipment when you put it away after a season and before tapping during a new season. Most tappers recommend drilling the tapping hole on the southern facing side of the tree, beneath a large branch. You should assume any link is an affiliate link. They make these in metal and even plastic. Trees over 25 inches in diameter can sustain three taps. Look for unblemished bark and don’t bore too close to an older tap-hole. If the tree has been tapped before, make sure you do not locate the hole within 6 inches from the prior sap collection spot. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) The sugar maple yields the highest volume and concentration of sap, making it a superior candidate for tapping. If you have chosen the right time to tap, the sap from the tree should begin to flow, at least slightly, from the tree immediately after the spout has been affixed. 6. No problem, there are more than one dozen other trees common to the United States that can also be tapped for syrup and sugar. It’s that time of year again, fellow homesteaders… tree tapping time! Maple trees have what we dubbed “helicopters” when growing up. You have to check the buckets and collect the sap daily – no matter how busy you are or what the weather is like outdoors. • Red – Sap from this maple tree contains about a 1.7% sugar content. • Holder or Hooks – Holders are sold to hang either buckets or bags and purchased by some tree tappers. A strong and healthy tree can be tapped multiple times over several seasons. Find a maple tree. If you delay and let the sap sit in a bucket overnight it will likely freeze and have to be pitched. Why tap a maple tree? Its sugar content is approximately 2.0%. When to Tap Maple Trees for Sap. Leaves from soft maple trees are usually a light greenish or yellow-green color. The trees closely resemble sugar maples and can be distinguished by their leaves. How to tap your tree. • Spouts – some tappers and stores refer to the spouts as spiles. You’ll be mighty disappointed if you don’t have a way to hang them. You might be hiking out to your trees up to your ankles in mud with rain pouring heavily upon your shoulders, but the sap buckets must be check and poured into a storage container. Do not pound it, this will split the wood. You’ll want to drill at a slight angle to facilitate the downward flow of sap. 5. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. In the spring, the sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum) does something magical. It will be a clear liquid that does not look all that much different from water. 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. Make sure the tree is on your property! Hammer. For every increase of 2″ in diameter, you can add another tap. 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. What species of maple tree is it? • Tree tapping is a lot of work. Whether you have an abundance of trees on your property or find a nice neighbor, it’s definitely worth giving a try to get some delicious, natural sugar. 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. Just when the weather starts the warm, but the ground is still snow covered and cold… that’s the perfect time for tapping trees for sap you can boil into syrup. Make sure that the size of your drill bit matches up with the tap, also known as a spile, for a snug fit. Hard maple tree leaves often appear to boast a “U” shape, and soft maple tree leaves have a shape than looks more like a “V” shape. 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 sweetest and best sap is usually produced during the early days and weeks of the season. Typically, this variety of maple tree will have a more watery or thinner sap and a low sugar content. Keep checking until the sap stops flowing and then you can turn the sap into syrup. Tapping Maple Trees for Syrup (Acer Species) There are 10 different species of maple tree that can be tapped for syrup. I can’t tell from the picture. Sugar maple growth rate of course varies depending on many factors, especially on spring and summertime growing conditions. The tree should be at least 10 inches in diameter before it can be tapped. You want to hit the xylem or sapwood of the tree. Join The Self Sufficient Life group here. A corded drill will work in a pinch, but it’s going to make use of a lot of drop cord unless you have electrical outlets next to your trees. The tree needs some of that sap to produce buds and leaves. 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. • The sap must be stored at a temperature of 38F or colder for best results. Attach the lid to the bucket and spout/spile as indicated by the directions on your specific equipment. The Sugar Maple grows in significant numbers in USDA zones 4 through 8. • Sap Hydrometer – These optional gadgets are handy to have if you are interested in learning the sugar content in your sap before cooking it. • Sugar – This is the “go to” tree for tapping. Using a single tap could overtax the tree and could affect its health. If it’s a little more narrow, that’s ok, too. That is where the sap is going to start to flow first because that side of the tree warms up first. Use this guide to decide which trees to tap and learn about making birch syrup, making walnut syrup, and making sycamore syrup. Use a hammer to lightly tap the spile into the hole. The sugar content of the Black Maple tree is approximately two percent. You can run it through a cheesecloth or similar to remove any impurities that found their way in. University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator Kathy Hopkins discusses the best method to safely tap a maple tree. To make things easier, you can mark that depth on your bit with a piece of tape. Once you drill your hole, you’ll need to pound your spile into the tree. Hold the drill and drill bit at a slight angle, pointing upwards. But this will depend a lot on where you live. This gives the sap a chance to flow up during the day, and down at night. The sugar and syrup produced from this variety is incredibly sweet and delicious. Each tap will yield 5-15 gallons of sap per season. Maple trees that give the most sap are of the sugar or black variety. How to Tap a Maple Tree A sugar maple is the most popular tree to tap due to the high concentration of sugars. 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. While the syrup is very tasty, the Red Maple tree creates less sap than either the Black or the Sugar Maple tree varieties. 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. 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 Plateau Native American tribes often tapped the Rocky Mountain Maple tree for sugar and syrup. For trees 21-27″ in diameter, you’ll use two taps. Do not hammer the spile • White Walnut – Sap from the White Walnut (or Butternut Tree) contains the same high percentage of sugar as the Sugar Maple tree. Now that I live up in Canada’s far north – (Northwest Territories), it’s a good month later – April. Refer to the directions that came with your particular spout or spiles to make sure it is positioned properly. For trees 12-20″ in diameter, you’ll use one spile each. You’ll insert the spile into the loop on the hook and pound it gently into place using a hammer. Buckets and lids. To boil sap, bring it to a full and rolling boil, and hold it there for about one minute, before turning off the heat. The height of your spile should be comfortable for you. Each produces a syrup with a slightly different flavor profile. • For best results, use or process the sap within one week of collection. Tapping buckets must have a firm fitting lid. How to Tap Trees for Syrup. We prefer metal. I hope you have warm days and cold nights for good runs. 3. Tap the SOUTH side of the tree. The hole drilled should be between 2 to 2.5 inches deep. NECESSARY EQUIPMENT FOR TREE TAPPING. • The amount of sap you get in your buckets in a single day will vary based upon fluctuations in temperature. Tapping the trees may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually the easiest part of making syrup! 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. When you start tapping, you’re actually drilling a hole into the trunk of the tree with a power drill. 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. stay above freezing and leaf buds appear, the maple syrup season is over. Drink sap straight from the maple. The hook on the spout should be facing outward. You’ll want to locate the trees you plan to use and use the guidelines above for how many taps to put into each tree. But, that doesn’t mean the process isn’t worthwhile. I used to tap trees and make maple syrup, lots of fun with plenty of hard work. plink! You’ll want to check your buckets daily and empty any collected sap. The differences are subtle, and the species has less to do with the … plink! Sugar maples provide the most sap while silver maples, black and even red can also be utilized and provide sugar. Soft maple varieties tend to drop their seeds in either the early days of summer, or the final weeks of spring. If it’s light brown or beige, the tree is most likely healthy and you have selected a good spot to garner sap. 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. A lot of times you will tap a tree that you think is a maple tree going to find out that there’s no SAP the reason why there’s no SAP is that it’s probably not a maple. 10 Essential Crops for a Self Sufficient Garden. Keep in mind that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. 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. But, if you didn’t plan in advance, not all hope is lost. The amount of sap that flows from this variety of walnut tree is also often comparable to the yield from the Sugar Maple tree. Another option, of course, would be to identify the trees in the summer or fall when the leaves are still on the branches. The dimensions of the drill bit will depend both on the size of the tree and the spout being used to collect sap. Wife, mama to three awesome farm girls, and passionate about helping others ditch the status quo to live more self sufficient lives, no matter where they live. The time has come. • Buckets or Bags – Traditional tappers use buckets that can be hung on or above the spout and onto the tree to collect sap. You can run it through a cheesecloth or similar to remove any impurities that found their way in. Generally, if the weather is right, the sap will immediately begin flowing from the tree. It is the combination of the chilly night time temperatures and the warm daytime temperatures that causes the sap to flow both easily and fairly rapidly, from the trees. 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. Since the leaves can’t help you identify the species this time of year, you’ll want to get a winter field guide like this one to identify which are maples if you aren’t familiar with the characteristics. Inspect the shaving churned out while drilling the tapping hole. These trees could be defined as the most generous trees of all, in terms of sap production and sugar release. If you’re placing more than one, you’ll want to divide them around the circumference of the tree. This task is fairly easy. This is usually around 3 feet. Native American tribes who lived in this region often tapped the Big Leaf Maple tree for syrup and sugar making purposes. The trees selected should be fully mature and measure a minimum of 12 inches in diameter – and of course, healthy. Drill a hole about 1-1/2″ – 2″ into the tree at an slight upward angle. 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. If the sap is flowing, you should immediately see sap dripping from the spile. 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. Typically the time is around late February to mid-March. The abundance of sap will vary depending not only on the tree, but the type of maple. You want your spile to fit tightly. 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