Researchers at the University of Vermont have developed a new tapping model aimed at sustaining the health of maple sugar bushes.
Todd Leuty, agroforestry specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, said that following the model should keep tap-hole damage low enough that maples can continue to thrive.
Typically an area about the width of the spile and about 10 centimetres long, when using modern narrower spiles, is damaged by a season’s tapping.
Leuty said the Vermont researchers recommend that taps for pipelines be placed high enough to provide a 75-cm drop to the mainline.
Next year’s tap should be at least 2.5 cm to the left or right of last year’s tap, and about 30 cm higher or lower. Each subsequent year, the tap should move the same distance and in the same direction around the tree. By the time the tapping has moved right around the trunk, the tree will have grown a new layer of fresh wood.
Trees ought to be 30 cm diameter before a first tap and twice that size before two taps are made in a tree.
It’s a lighter tapping load than many Canadian producers have practiced.