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Thread: Planting a sugarbush

  1. #1
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    Default Planting a sugarbush

    Have any of the large producers specifically planted maples in rows for future tapping?

    I understand there is a 15+ year wait once planted to begin to tap but ginseng farmers work on a 7 year plant to harvest time frame. I would think that the ease of running the tubes and maintenance of lines would make it worth the wait. You could also amend the soil and control the canopies of the trees easier. Had some time to think while turkey hunting the last few days and couldn't find any information online about it.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by octane View Post
    Have any of the large producers specifically planted maples in rows for future tapping?

    I understand there is a 15+ year wait once planted to begin to tap but ginseng farmers work on a 7 year plant to harvest time frame. I would think that the ease of running the tubes and maintenance of lines would make it worth the wait. You could also amend the soil and control the canopies of the trees easier. Had some time to think while turkey hunting the last few days and couldn't find any information online about it.
    15 years? Seems like it'd be closer to 45...
    Second generation sap rat.

    Started taking over in 2012
    2012-2016: 300 buckets 120 on gravity tubing. Waterloo 2x10 wood fired. Averaged 105 gallons per season.
    2017: hoping for 300 on 3/16 with Shurflo and 50 buckets. New used 4x14 Algier wood fired cooker. 180 gallons of syrup

    2018: 300 on vacuum 2 buckets, finally got a splitter!

  3. #3
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    You certainly wouldn't have sugar maples ready to tap in 15 years maybe, silvers. I believe it would be closer to motowbrowne said. If memory serves me correctly there was an article in the Maple news about a guy who was tapping this year for the first time on trees ha had planted 30 years ago.
    2004 - 2012 2x3 flat pan 25 to 60 taps
    2012 2x3 new divided pan w/draw off 55 taps
    2018 - didn't boil surgery - bought new evaporator
    2019 new SML 2x4 raised flue high output evap. 65 taps
    made 17 gal syrup
    2020 - only put out 53 taps - made 16.25 gal syrup
    2021 - going for 50 bags and 50 on tubing

  4. #4
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    If you plant sugars as small saplings, plan on 30-40 years. Closer to 30 if you fertilize them and keep competition down, 40-45 if you just let nature do it without help.
    Planting for tapping is generally done for future generations, but if you're young enough it can work for you. Go one better and get the super trees , then maybe 15-20 yrs can work, but they are not sugars, however they are very high sugar %. Maybe on real sugar maples, if you get a tree spade and transplant 2-3" caliper trees, and then fertilize maybe 15-20 years. A tree spade is a heavy piece of equipment that digs up the whole tree and carries it to a hole ready for receiving it that was dug by the same spade.
    Dave Klish about 400 taps, down from much more. Retired from collecting and boiling in 2021. Mostly because of a bad hip.
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  5. #5
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    One of the maple producers near us planted a couple acre orchard of 8-10 foot high maple saplings after the 1998 ice storm. I believe they tapped it for the first time last year. Those trees are probably close to 40 years old in total.

    I recall reading that you plant a maple orchard on a 16 foot grid and you go in after 10-15 years or so and remove 3/4 of the trees to get to an "ideal" spacing of a 32 foot grid.
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  6. #6
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    I am not planning on planting a maple orchard. I was just curious if there were any sugarbushes out there that had been planted for this purpose.

    I threw the 15+ years out there as a best case scenario using larger diameter hybrid type transplants. Looking at the fruit and nut orchards and what they can do with irrigation and injecting the fertilizer into the ground around the tree, keeping the grass mowed along with proper spacing, full sunlight.

    The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago.

  7. #7
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    In 1985 when my Dad retired and we mowed "back" our family camp had several large patches of maple saplings. He and my Grandfather thinned them to try to help along a better canopy and tree growth to be able to tap the trees one day. In 2016 we tapped a few of those for the first time. It's definitely a long term plan. It also can be quite risky depending on Mother Nature....storms, fire, bugs, and anything else that comes along. I would recommend keeping a few closer and then thinning the final bush slowly over a few year period. It's something your grandchildren may appreciate. We have several oak trees thanks to my Grandfather. He would take some acorns home and plant them the next spring as he walked the property. There are several oak trees about the right age in different parts of the property he would walk.

    Mike
    Tapping since 1985 (four generations back to early to mid 1900s). 200-250 taps on buckets and then tubing in the mid 90s. 2013- 275 taps w/sap puller 25 gal. 2014-295 taps w/sap puller 55 ga. (re-tapped to vacuum theory) 2015-330 taps full vac. 65 gal, 2016-400 taps 105 gal, 2017-400 taps 95 gal. 2018-additional 800' mainline and maybe 400 new taps for a total near 800 taps. 2x6 Leader WSE (last year on it) supported by a 250 gph RO.

  8. #8
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    Planting and rearing of trees will yield what you put into it, minus any unforeseen issues as mentioned. You could plant RPM trees (Forest Keeling Nursery https://fknursery.com/ although I don't see sugar maple as part of their inventory any longer) which are supposed to grow really fast, but cost a good bit. You can transplant seedlings from your bush to another spot and they might take or not. Keeping the deer off of them (deer really like sugar maple), mowing the grass back, fertilization and watering will definitely hasten the journey to maturity, but it is still a long-term investment in terms of time, effort, and money. So 15 yrs to tapping is perhaps possible if you plant larger saplings and treat them very nicely, however 30+ yrs is probably more realistic.

    As someone noted, you can get sweet silver maple seedlings from St. Lawrence Nursery https://stlawrencenurseries.com/prod...nt=28104224135 They didn't take too well to our upland soils...I think maybe a handful out of all those we planted survived. You can (I think) also still get "Super Sweet" sugar maple seedlings from Cornell https://blogs.cornell.edu/cornellmap...ree-seedlings/

    A couple of our plantations below.

    This plantation is a mix of sugar maple (top and bottom sections, with silver maple (middle). About 7 yrs after planting (and they were about 1-2' tall at that point). You can see there was not a lot of survival in the middle section. Area around them is mowed regularly. No fertilization or watering. Corner posts are about 10' tall. Deer exclusion fencing.
    harvey road plantation 1.jpg

    This area had some RPM Super Sweets about 7 yrs since planting. It is ready to be thinned, transplanted, or "capped". No fertilization or watering. Person for scale. No deer exclusion fencing -- middle of plantation is pretty thin...deer liked to bed down in the middle and chomp away.
    Plantation below Mound 2.jpg

    This photo is of one of the plantations we worked in for the "sapling capping" project. Top photo is after sap collection (with a few saplings left uncut as controls). Lower is of the same plantation 4 yrs after stopping that project. Can't hardly tell they were cut back and sap extracted for 3-4 yrs in a row. Dr. Abby for scale in top photo, student research assistant for scale on bottom.
    plantation sapling recovery.jpg
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    Last edited by DrTimPerkins; 06-03-2021 at 08:48 AM.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  9. #9
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    What is the best fertilizer mix for maple trees? 16-4-8 NPK slow release (~180 days)? Asking for both a stressed mature tree and saplings.

    Any recommended natural or organic brands?

    Fall after leaf drop the best time to treat?
    D. Roseum
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DRoseum View Post
    What is the best fertilizer mix for maple trees? 16-4-8 NPK slow release (~180 days)?
    It depends upon the soils and what the stress is. Maple trees have a high demand for calcium, so liming is often a good idea, but should only be done moderately. This will also increase the availability of many other nutrients.

    N is rarely a problem in forests, especially in the northeast. If you use it, it should be a low amount, slow release, and given in the spring only. Fertilizing (especially with N) in the late summer or fall encourages growth to continue, and can hamper the natural hardening off process for dormancy.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

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