When do I Tap a Maple Tree?
Kathy Hopkins: Hi, I’m Kathy Hopkins with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension,
and I’m here at Hymore Farm to tap a maple tree and make some maple syrup.
How do you know when to tap a maple tree? When is it maple season? Well, when the temperature
gets to be freezing at night, around 20 or so, and goes up to 40 or 45 during the day,
it’s sap season. That can happen any time between the end of January and some time in
March. You need to be ready to have your equipment and be ready to go when that weather appears.
You only need some simple equipment and you need a maple tree. If you didn’t mark your
maple trees last fall so you knew what you were going to tap, you need to be able to
identify them. One tool you can use is the Forest Services’ Forest Trees of Maine book.
They have a nice key to the different maples in here, and they have great pictures in here
of maple trees, maple leaves, and maple twig branching.
You can tell a maple tree because it’s one of the few trees in Maine that has opposite
branching. That means the buds and the branches are side by side across from each other. There’s
only a few trees that do that, and you can remember that if you remember mad dog, maples,
ash and some dogwoods have opposite branching. You have your maple tree, so how do we know
when the maple season is over and you should pull your buckets and your taps? Well, when
these buds start to swell, the season’s pretty much over. The sap is going to start getting
an off flavor to it. We call it buddy. Your syrup is going to taste like you’re chewing
on a green twig, not very flavorful. When these start to go, then buckets need
to come off. [music]