For every increase of 2″ in diameter, you can add another 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. Make sure the tree is on your property! A tree should be at least 10 inches in diameter, measured at 4 1/2 feet above the ground, before tapping. The bark on hard maple tree varieties is typically filled with deep and narrow furrows. If it’s a little more narrow, that’s ok, too. You’ll be mighty disappointed if you don’t have a way to hang them. Typically, trees are prime for tapping between the middle of February through mid-March. The Sugar Maple grows in significant numbers in USDA zones 4 through 8. I can’t tell from the picture. But, the most common trees used are sugar maples. Want to branch out from maple? Make each cut just above a lateral branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the cut stem. Note: when done properly, tapping won’t harm your tree, and the hole you make will heal up nicely on its own. Attach the lid to the bucket and spout/spile as indicated by the directions on your specific equipment. 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. The trees selected should be fully mature and measure a minimum of 12 inches in diameter – and of course, healthy. • Black Walnut – This tree produces not only delicious nuts, but a tasty sap as well. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Wasting time is definitely not something homesteaders like to do! Use a hammer to lightly tap the spile into the hole. 2. 2. In the spring, the sugar maple tree (Acer saccharum) does something magical. How to Tap Trees Drill a hole in a tree, 2 - 4 feet above the ground. First off, you can tap many deciduous trees for sap. Drill a hole about 1.5 inches into the tree – slightly uphill – so the sap will run down. Typically the time is around late February to mid-March. For any tree 27″ or larger in diameter, it will take three. 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. 3. Hammer. 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. 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. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. How to Tap a Maple Tree A sugar maple is the most popular tree to tap due to the high concentration of sugars. You should assume any link is an affiliate link. It will be a clear liquid that does not look all that much different from water. 6. How to Tap Trees for Syrup. 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. 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. Trees over 25 inches in diameter can sustain three taps. You’ll insert the spile into the loop on the hook and pound it gently into place using a hammer. For example, a tree more than 15″ in diameter can handle 2 taps, and 20″ can handle 3 taps, etc…. A second tap may be added to trees between 20 and 25 inches in diameter. • Some folks love to drink the sap right after it flows from the tree, this is not recommended! 3. Sugar maples provide the most sap while silver maples, black and even red can also be utilized and provide sugar. That is where the sap is going to start to flow first because that side of the tree warms up first. Trees are best tapped when the temperature is warm during the day and cold at night. We’ll be tapping birch trees this year as well, but it takes many more birches to get the same amount of syrup. If the sap is flowing, you should immediately see sap dripping from the spile. Typically, a 7/16 or 5/16 drill bit will work for most spouts and trees. Typically, this variety of maple tree will have a more watery or thinner sap and a low sugar content. You can run it through a cheesecloth or similar to remove any impurities that found their way in. • Use tree tapping pouches like the ones in the photo below to keep debris and other impurities away from your sap. Inspect the shaving churned out while drilling the tapping hole. Typically, the sap flows best with these fluctuations in temperature. Find a maple tree. • 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. Thankfully, you can still purchase aluminum sap buckets and lids on Amazon or even at your local farm store. Drill a hole about 1-1/2″ – 2″ into the tree at an slight upward angle. And if the shavings are a dark brown when you drill into it, pick a different spot (the shavings should be light brown). 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. stay above freezing and leaf buds appear, the maple syrup season is over. You can also get pre-made tree sapping kits on Amazon. Native American tribes who lived in this region often tapped the Big Leaf Maple tree for syrup and sugar making purposes. Place the tapping hole at least 3 feet from the bottom of the tree. 7. Even birch and walnut will provide you with plenty of sweet, flavorful sap that you can boil down. Their leaves are either silver or white on the bottom, and boast a more pointy shape than the leaves from hard maple tree varieties. 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. Tapping maple trees is relatively straightforward, and it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy. Using a single tap could overtax the tree and could affect its health. The size of the drill bit depends on the size of your tap (also known as a spile). But, that doesn’t mean the process isn’t worthwhile. Hold the drill and drill bit at a slight angle, pointing upwards. You can run it through a cheesecloth or similar to remove any impurities that found their way in. 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. Tapping Maple Trees for Syrup (Acer Species) There are 10 different species of maple tree that can be tapped for syrup. • Sap Hydrometer – These optional gadgets are handy to have if you are interested in learning the sugar content in your sap before cooking it. 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! The tree should be at least 10 inches in diameter before it can be tapped. A strong and healthy tree can be tapped multiple times over several seasons. Sugaring season used to be a tradition. 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. • Spouts – some tappers and stores refer to the spouts as spiles. Most tappers recommend drilling the tapping hole on the southern facing side of the tree, beneath a large branch. Anything under 21″ will only take one tap. 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. If the tree has been tapped before, make sure you do not locate the hole within 6 inches from the prior sap collection spot. Keep in mind that it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. But, if you didn’t plan in advance, not all hope is lost. 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. The height of your spile should be comfortable for you. 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. We’re growing our own food, cooking from scratch and taking steps toward self sufficient living on just an acre, and I think you can, too. Drill a level, horizontal 2’’ deep hole at a convenient height. Some of the reviews on this site may be compensated by the companies whose products were reviewed. You’ll want to drill at a slight angle to facilitate the downward flow of sap. When to Tap Maple Trees for Sap. So, if you’re placing two put one on the south side and one on the north. I used to tap trees and make maple syrup, lots of fun with plenty of hard work. 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. Another option, of course, would be to identify the trees in the summer or fall when the leaves are still on the branches. The leaves from hard maple trees are usually dark green with smooth points. What species of maple tree is it? 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. If the tree has damage, avoid those spots. • Filtering Material – You can buy sap filters, but cheesecloth will do the trick just fine. If you’re only placing one tap, you will want it on the south side of the tree. Trimming maple trees involves pruning out diseased or broken branches at least 6 inches into healthy wood. Do not pound it, this will split the wood. 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. above photo shows a sugar maple tree leaf. 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. Make sure that the size of your drill bit matches up with the tap, also known as a spile, for a snug fit. University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator Kathy Hopkins discusses the best method to safely tap a maple tree. If you hit dark brown again, it may not be worth your time and effort to try to tap the tree. 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. 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. The tree needs some of that sap to produce buds and leaves. Me too. plink! • For best results, use or process the sap within one week of collection. If you’ve tapped the tree in previous years, do not tap within 6″ of the previous holes. 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