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Thread: Tapping to early?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
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    Minnesota
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    Default Tapping to early?

    Hi, I have a question about tapping trees early, So my plan is to tap my trees this coming Sunday 2/28, the temp don’t look to be right for sap to flow until the following Wednesday 3/3 and looks to be above freezing during the day and freezing at night from then on. Just wondering if there is any ill effects of tapping before the sap is really flowing and the temps are right?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Hudson Valley, NY
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    I'm far from an expert, but my understanding is the only problem tapping too early is the tap hole healing, but that's supposed to take a few weeks. You're only looking at a few days if your temps are looking good by Wednesday, so it should be good.
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  3. #3
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    Jan 2016
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    MA
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    As a perennially early tapper, I understand the urge to get moving on the season. However, I think there are some compelling reasons to wait. My understanding is that as soon as the tree is tapped the clock starts ticking. You can use that time to collect sap or to look at empty buckets. I have recently been made aware of another potential reason to wait.

    During a hard freeze, maple trees pull sap up from their roots. That water is transported to the buds where the sugars will eventually be used in leaf formation. When a thaw occurs the sap drains back down the tree where it exits through tap holes. During an extended freeze (like we've had recently) a portion of the water evaporates from the top of tree. This means that the first run can be rather weak. This system needs at least one solid freeze/thaw cycle to really get charged up.

    If you are using buckets and your goal is to maximize production, it seems like waiting has its benefits even though it might feel like you're letting the first run get away from you.
    60ish taps on buckets
    D&G Sportsman 18x63
    Turbo RB15 RO Bucket
    Stihl 460 and 026

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    Hudson NH
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    I think it all comes down to your time and the number of taps you are putting out. If it is under 50 taps and you can do it in a few hours then I would wait. I have about 50 taps and I tend to wait until it looks like a good string of weather. There will be no harm in putting out your taps a few days earlier if that is the time you have available. If they are on buckets you should get 4-6 weeks of viability depending on many factors. Tubing will give you a longer window. The big guys will tap the first of January and it is not uncommon for their first boil to be in March or April. When the number of taps is in the 1000's - 10,000's they have to start early. The nice thing with a hobby operation is you can usually tap in a day and focus in on the weather a little more. I will say it is rewarding to have sap flowing when you drill and I do think it helps to expel some of the wood shavings if you get any. Good luck and you really cant go wrong with the window you are considering.

    19x48 mini pro oil fired, Nano R/O, CDL Vacuum Press
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    2019- 50 taps all buckets- 6 Gallons syrup made
    2020 -50 taps, more Sugar Maples, with some Reds- 6 gallons made
    2021- 46 taps- 26 on 3/16 tubing, 19 buckets - All Sugar Maples this year - 12.2 Gallons made
    Two kids one patient wife
    "The days are long, but the years are short"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Holmes, NY
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    Hi,
    Being a newb ( my 3rd season ) I won't post advice,but will post my personal experience.
    I am in the Hudson Valley of NY and put in 10 taps on the 21rst. I did this about the same time the last 2 seasons. Those last seasons I saw gallon quantities of sap in each bucket 2-3 days after tapping. This year-- same trees BTW-- I didn't get but drops for the first 2 days. Today we have a nice sunny day in the 40s (F) outside, and the sap is running nicely. I was worried over the last 2 days that I did something wrong!

    So in my case I was probably a bit early, but the sap is running and none of the holes seem to have plugged up. I am guessing that yes, it probably takes a while for the flow to slow down due to healing.

    --Peter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Hudson Valley, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterHolmes View Post
    Hi,
    Being a newb ( my 3rd season ) I won't post advice,but will post my personal experience.
    I am in the Hudson Valley of NY --Peter
    Peter, I'm also in Hudson Valley (Orange County) and mine started dripping pretty good today. I tapped a dozen trees last Sunday and they were dripping when I tapped them that day, but then stopped that night and nothing again until today. The next week or two looks great. My only concern is a few days it's forecast to be just above freezing at night, but I tend to be colder at night than the forecast being surrounded by mountains, but also at about 600 feet elevation in my particular spot.

    Ray
    Last edited by Ocelotsden; 02-24-2021 at 02:18 PM. Reason: messed up quote
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Backyard hobby syrup maker on about 12 trees

  7. #7
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    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterHolmes View Post
    This year-- same trees BTW-- I didn't get but drops for the first 2 days. Today we have a nice sunny day in the 40s (F) outside, and the sap is running nicely. I was worried over the last 2 days that I did something wrong!
    Think about it like this....take a tree sized block of ice and freeze it down to 5 deg F. Now warm the temperature up to about 40 deg F during the day and 25 deg F at night. How long do you think it's going to take for that block of ice to reach 32 deg F and start to melt? The answer...a while. Trees don't react as quickly as air....they are big and buffered, so it takes a while for them to thaw out.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  8. #8
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    D5BE9C55-53B2-43FF-938E-48FEBCB15BBA.jpg
    This is my 10 day forcast, we have 250-300 taps with buckets. So we are planning on tapping Sunday only one day in the next ten that doesn’t get above freezing for a high, are we ok to tap Sunday? The temps after the 10 day are all in the upper 30s and 40s as well. Thanks for all the info already!

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