It’s Maple Syrup Season!
You may have noticed buckets hanging from trees on your drive around the neighborhood. Consider it good news. It is one of the earliest signs of Spring! March is maple syrup season in many parts of the country and you can join in the excitement with just a few items and very little elbow grease. This is a project that the whole family can enjoy!
Sugar maples set the landscape ablaze with color in Autumn with their vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds, but in the early Spring they give us liquid gold. I live in the Midwest and maple sugar is Michigan’s first agricultural harvest of the year.
Maple syrup can come from the trees in your own yard. If you own black, red, or silver maples, you have trees able to produce the sap needed for syrup. You can also use box elder trees. But if you want to make the best tasting maple syrup, the sugar maple reigns supreme due to the high concentration of sugar in its sap. Sugar maples can be found throughout Michigan as it is the most common native tree species in the state!
It takes 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to yield one gallon of syrup. The average sugar maple requires almost a week to produce the necessary sap for a gallon of syrup. The process is slow, but the result is worth it!
If you want to try tapping your own trees, now is the time!
The pressure which makes the sap flow comes from temperatures varying between freeze and thaw temperatures. When the thermometer dips below 32 degrees at night and rises into the 40s during the day is when sap runs best. That is a period of 4 to 6 weeks. Once the maple trees begin to bud, the season ends. When leaves form, the sap becomes bitter.
To tap a sugar maple, find a tree that is 10 inches or more in diameter. Drill a hole into the tree using a power drill with a 7/16” or 3/8” drill bit that corresponds with the tapping spout you select. The hole should be 2 inches deep and tilted upward at a slight angle. Drill the hole at a height easy for you to access, about 3 or 4 feet high.