Hello and Happy New Year!
Though the maple sugaring season may only last 6 to 8 weeks, preparation for the season begins well before the cool nights and warm days of spring arrive. Before the sap begins to flow, all lines are walked and tubing is repaired. Typically, wind damage and fallen branches do the most damage to tubing. However, squirrels, coyotes, deer, bear, sap suckers, and moose do their share of damaging maple tubing. Looks like humans are not the only fans of the taste of sweet maple sap!
Tapping trees requires drilling a new hole every year. It is important to find a good spot to drill a hole to minimize the impact to the tree. Modern sugaring uses a hole that is 5/16 inch wide and inch and a quarter deep. In older times the hole was 7/16 inch wide and at least 3 inches deep.
Last year we started tapping in mid January. We plan on heading out into the woods shortly and wonder what we will discover this year. We once came upon a pair of hibernating bear cubs while tapping trees. Naturally, we did not tap in that region, so they could enjoy their winter nap.