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Tapping a Maple Tree in the Suburbs

 
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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I think it took my all of about 5 minutes to set this up.   Get a food grade bucket (I got it at Lowes) ordered a Maple Syrup tap kit from amazon ($20) and needed a 5/16th drill bit to drill the hole.  Wow! So easy! Maple Syrup here I come.  I'm also kinda looking forward to just drinking the tree water before I boil down the sap to make syrup.  Should have done this years ago.  This is a Silver maple tree and not a sugar Maple.   You can get syrup from a bunch of different trees like sycamore or even a walnut tree!  so cool!

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Full shot of the contracption
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The Spile(tap)
Maple3.JPG
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Bucket
 
pollinator
Posts: 972
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Jimbo, I am interested in how durable the equipment seems to be. It seems like a good project, but I hate buying equipment I would only be able to use a couple times. What is your take on it?
 
Posts: 66
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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I think this is great, unfortunately from many sources I have read it takes about 50 gallons of maple water to equal 1 gallon of syrup. However the maple water is really good for you, its a natural sugared water and it nice if you need a boost in the woods. Just make sure you use it relatively soon as the natural sugar causes it to become a home for bacteria after leaving the tree.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
Posts: 49
Location: Virginia
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Jimbo, I am interested in how durable the equipment seems to be. It seems like a good project, but I hate buying equipment I would only be able to use a couple times. What is your take on it?



TJ, to early to tell on the durability.   I just started.  I imagine a metal tap / spile would would be a whole lot more durable but also more expensive.  Start small and test the waters (or syrup) and see if you like it and that won't cost you much and its a pretty cool project at a time of the year when not much is growing anyway.
 
Posts: 184
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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I have a similar setup for my maple trees, my equipment is going on 5 or 6 seasons. Clean the tubing and taps well at the end, and if you stack buckets make sure they are dry and add a piece of scrap wood or something to the bottom  to separate them so they don't get stuck together.
I also tap silver maples, I would actually say the flavor is better than sugar maples personally, lighter, more honeylike. I've done walnut syrup before, the ration is much higher, close to 1:100 I would guess, and the flavor was ok, not special. Almost like a dark maple syrup with an off taste. I got maybe a few ounces from 10 gallons.
I might suggest you check the depth of your taps into the tree if it doesn't flow, they look a little deep to me.
Good Luck! We're flowing in MN now too, earliest i've ever seen it personally, though I said that last year too.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
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Location: Virginia
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Looks like I was late for Northern Virginia and got no maple water.  Next year I will drill a hole and make a tap that will just be for monitoring sap flow.   Maybe the first week of January because February was way too late! I will update this next year.
 
master pollinator
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The sap season was a really great one this year in Maine and still running.

If it is late for maples in your area, try birch! Yellow and White birch not only run later in the season then maple, they run a lot stronger too! In Maine March and April is typically Maple Sugaring Season, but White and Yellow birch typically run unto May or even June here.

Personally I like Yellow Birch as it can be tasted right out of the tree and has a wintergreen taste. Of course it can be boiled down too. Just don't do it on your kitchen stove as all that moisture will play havoc inside your home. You have to do it on a grill or outside wood stove.
 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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The sap run for maples is around the time when you have freezing nights and thawing days.  Highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s seem to be ideal.  

Virginia is fairly far South for maple syrup.  Here's a screen shot from the Sugarbush.info web site that shows where all the members are located.  You're definitely on the southern fringe so the indicators of when the season starts and stops may be different for you.

I'd suggest that with your set-up you might want to limit damage to the tree by not screwing the wooden block to the tree.  When I used buckets on the ground I just put a rock on them to keep them from tipping over.
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