It is Tapping Time, And That Means Spring!

Here we go, in southwest Michigan!  The 10-day forecast includes what appears to be an almost picture perfect start to the maple sugaring season.

10-day weather forecast for Kalamazoo, Michigan

Starting on Saturday, 7 March, you can see that the daily high and low temperatures will bracket the freezing point for six days in a row; that dynamic is what causes maple trees to develop a positive pressure when the temperature rises above freezing, pushing sap out of the tree.  I will plan to tap at least some of our trees on the morning of Saturday 7 March, and I would bet that they will start flowing that afternoon.

A call to the Kalamazoo Nature Center revealed that as part of previously scheduled public events, they have already tapped their maple trees.  Based on what I have seen the weather doing in recent weeks, we have not missed much, if any, of the season.

This year we are planning to scale up the operation, from 13 taps to 20 taps, still a small operation by most measurements.  For more information on the process you can read my previous posts on the subject:

Very Early Spring 2014 – Tapping the Sugar Maples!
Very Early Spring 2014 – Sugaring! Part II of Tapping the Sugar Maples!

For those of you in southwest Michigan, you might want to check out Dodd’s Sugar Shack in Niles (no web presence), call Don at 269-683-3283; they have some new and used equipment available.  Or try Sugar Bush Supply Co. in Mason, MI, at 517-349-5185.  You can also find equipment on eBay, in fact I just found 10 used buckets with lids and spiles there, at a very good price.

There are all sorts of ways to get started inexpensively, using materials you might have around you, like wire, piping (PVC, PEX, copper, etc.), and empty milk jugs, for example.  The most commonly tapped maples are Sugar, Black, Red and Silver, according to Tap My Trees.  Get out there and have some fun on a small scale; you will not regret it!

Thanks for reading, and keep us posted on your progress!

— John, 03 March 2015

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