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Syrup from broadleaf maples, is over tapping a problem

Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 5496
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
  I have quite a few broad leaf maples which will need to be thinned soon. Maples make good syrup so I'm thinking that it might make sense to tap them. I've heard dire warnings about over tapping trees although I'm not sure what effect this would have on broadleaf maple which are notoriously hard to kill.

     Most maple syrup is made from sugar Maple and black Maple in Eastern Canada with Québec accounting for about 90% of world production. Just about all information I've been able to find deals with those trees and much of it is in French.

    Has anyone in British Columbia, Washington or Oregon had any issues with tree death from over tapping the broadleaf maple?

    I'm also interested to learn of the labor efficiency of tapping broadleaf maples. Specifically, how much per hour do you figure you made after considering all aspects from sap to retail. If these numbers are quite low I'll probably just tap enough for friends and family. I won't have any energy costs associated since I'll construct some sort of big vat which will be heated with a rocket stove, probably the one inside the house. I'll have to pipe the steam outside or through a condenser coil.

      I was thinking that on those trees which I plan to thin, I might as well tap them to death. Or I could tap everything heavily and make it a survival of the fittest contest.

    Once when I was in my 20s I located a huge tract of forest near North Bay Ontario which was mostly beautiful sugar Maple. It was for sale cheap and I had grandiose visions of becoming a Maple flooring Baron. I estimated that this forest contained millions of dollars worth of finished product. My fantasy was dashed when my dad showed me a map of Ontario and then he drew a pencil line across it. Most maple north of that line have black heart(dead centers which become hollow over time making the trees useless for any form of lumber, something to do with extreme winters) and are only good for producing maple syrup and a bit of firewood. The forest of my dreams was considerably  north of this line. I called a few mills and they confirmed that Maple in their area is just firewood.        " The best laid schemes.....  And leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy."   Robert Burns.

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John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6890
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
Here is a good read on Maple Syrup production:

kent smith

Joined: Sep 05, 2010
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
I want to tap some of the maples on our property this coming Feb. I have never done this, but mapling is big in this area. I am told that trees under 12" in diameter are to young and that from12" to 24" a single tap is used, from 24" to 30" two taps and over 30" three. I plan to fabricat a boiler this winter and give the process a try. If I remember right sap is about 3-4% sugar and you want to boil it until it is 68% so you are evaporating a lot of water. Sap starts to flow when the day time temps are above freezing, but when nights are still below freezing. Like I said this is all new to me and I figure I have the winter to get ready and do some more reading.

Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 5496
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
  It turns out my ex-wife's best friend is married to a guy who has written a book about making maple sugar from the broadleaf maple. His name is Gary Backlund so I'll check out his book and call him whenever I have questions. I've known him for 18 years. I knew he was dabbling but since he's written a book on the subject evidently he's gotten some experience. When I find out the name of the book I'll post it here along with a review letting everyone know whether or not it answers my labor efficiency questions.
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
subject: Syrup from broadleaf maples, is over tapping a problem