Ah yes, the age old question of how many taps per maple tree is upon us once more. At this point in your maple sugaring adventure you have your maple tapping kit ready to go, and you’re looking at the best trees on your property to tap. You wonder, “exactly how many spouts can I put into my big sugar maple out back – and how many in the small tree next to it?”
Tree diameter determines the number of spouts
Older, large diameter trees can support more spouts than younger, smaller diameter trees. While most trees will be fine with just one spout, sometimes you may want to put in two spouts to maximize your sap production from a very large tree. Generally speaking I would not recommend installing more than two spouts in even the largest trees. As stewards of the land, sustainability and tree health must be our priority.
Measuring a tree’s circumference and calculating the diameter
You’ll need a measuring tape and piece of string to measure the circumference of the tree.
- First, wrap the string around the the trunk at breast height – about 4.5 feet high and mark the string with a pen.
- Lay out the string and measure its length to determine the tree’s circumference.
- Divide the circumference number by 3.14 to calculate the diameter.
Let’s say, for example, the tree’s circumference is 38 inches around. Divide that number by 3.14 to get the actual diameter. In this case, 38 / 3.14 = 12.10 inch diameter. We can put only one spout in this sized tree.
Trees at least 12” in Diameter
Trees should have a diameter of at least 12” to be tapped. Some guides allow for 9-10 inch diameter trees to be tapped, but it is best if you leave those younger trees with more time to grow.
Trees from 18” to 24” in Diameter
Trees with a diameter from 18” to 24” should receive no more than two spouts or taps. While it may be tempting to add a third spout to these giants, don’t. Future generations of sugar makers will thank you!
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