# 8 Old Tapholes

This sugarbush is very old and many maple trees are healthy despite the fact that they are on the decline. Sugar maples are resilient – they have and can survive a lot of stress. The sugar maples worst enemy is old age. Their second worst enemy is the unknown. Maybe an ice storm? Maybe the Asian Longhorn Beetle that destroyed all the maples in China and has recently come to the US and Canada? The ALB came to the United States on boats loaded with shipping pallets. The ALB has been found in Chicago Illinois and Long Island and Central Park in Manhattan New York, Toronto Ontario, Cincinnati Ohio, and most recently in Boston Massachusetts just off of Interstate I-90. If you ever see several 1⁄2 inch holes in a tree with fine sawdust at the base, let your finding be known. All sightings of the damage by the ALB have been discovered by the casual observer. Please be alert and don’t move firewood.

Notice the old tap holes on this piece of wood and in this tree we recently cut down. Each tap hole yielded an average of 10 – 12 gallons of sap per season: that yields about one quart of pure maple syrup. The season of “Mud and
Snow” – warm sunny days (above 40 degrees) and frosty nights are ideal for sap flow. Tap holes are 2 inches deep and 5 /16 inch in diameter (old tapholes are 3/8 inch). A “health” spile is gently hammered into the hole and a bucket and cover is placed on the tree. Each year, we adjust the placement of the taphole; therefore, tapping hardly fazes a growing, productive tree. Tapholes heal over as if they were a mere scratch.    Sugar Maples can live upwards to 400 years – they are a tolerant tree. When we tap each spring, we stay at least 12” above or below and 6” to the right or left of old visible tapholes. When does the sap “run” (or drip?) Some of it is guesswork but the old timers say:

When the wind is in the east, Then the sap will run the least.
When the wind is in the west,Then the sap will run the best.

Actually, at Hurry Hill it runs the “best” when the wind is in the southwest!

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