How to Tap a Maple Tree – Instruction Guide by Kaito Ridge

This past Summer we have updated our classic instruction guide on How to Tap a Maple Tree. We’re always looking to improve the product and information to make it as easy as possible to use. With that in mind, we have added some new information to our classic guide originally published in 2013.

The Kaito Ridge Tree Tapping Instruction Quick Guide (Updated August, 2020)

How to Tap a Maple Tree

After properly identifying your maple trees, you are ready to begin tapping!

  1. Gather the tools for the job: drill (cordless preferred), hammer, food grade collection container, and a 5/16” drill bit.
  2. Locate the tree’s southern exposure. The side facing south tends to produce sap earlier than other sides of the trees.
  3. Measure the height of the tap hole carefully before drilling. The tap height is based on the total height of your collection container and the length of tubing. Be careful not to drill too high up, or your tube will not reach your container.
  4. Drill into the tree approximately 1” past the bark, into the white wood, at a very slight upward angle. Total depth will be approximately 1.5 to 2”. Remember to use caution and wear eye protection while drilling. Do not blow into the tap hole to clear debris. Doing so can introduce bacteria into the tree which can reduce sap yield.
  5. Insert the smooth end of the spout into the tree. while the barbed end inserts into your blue tubing. (Pro Tip: place the end of the tubing into hot water for 10 seconds to soften the tube and ease the attachment of the tube to the spout!).
  6. Lightly tap the spout into the tree, and be careful not to hammer the spout in too far or it will be difficult to remove. It is better to have the spout slightly loose than to have it stuck in the tree.
  7. Connect your tubing to a food grade collection container. We suggest using a large white 5 gallon food grade bucket with lid. An empty 1 gallon spring water jug can also be used. Be sure to check the collection container daily, up to twice a day (morning and night) as the flow of sap varies by tree and temperature. Two trees on the same property right next to each other may produce different amounts of sap. This is normal.
  8. When you’re finished collection, the equipment can be cleaned and reused next year! (Pro Tip: to ease disassembly of the tube and spout, place in hot water again for 10 seconds to soften the tube.) Do not insert anything into the tree’s tap hole when your season is finished, Maple trees are self-healing and will repair the hole themselves.

For more information on how to boil down your collected sap, identify the different types of maple and birch trees or to learn more about sugaring, visit us online at http://www.kaitoridge.com

US Copyright Kaito Ridge 2020

How to Tap a Maple Tree

After properly identifying your maple trees, you are now ready to begin tapping!

  1. Gather the tools for the job: drill (cordless preferred), hammer, food grade collection container, and a 5/16” drill bit.
  2. Locate the tree’s southern exposure. The side facing south tends to produce sap earlier than other sides of the trees.
  3. Measure the height of the tap hole carefully before drilling. The tap height is based on the total height of your collection container and the length of tubing. Be careful not to drill too high up.
  4. Drill into the tree approximately 1” past the bark, into the white wood, at a very slight upward angle. Remember to use caution and wear eye protection while drilling.
  5. Insert the smooth end of the spout into the tree, while the barbed end inserts into your blue tubing. (Pro Tip: place the end of the tubing into hot water for 10 seconds to ease the attachment of the tube to the spout!)
  6. Firmly tap the spout into the tree, and be careful not to hammer the spout in too much or it will be difficult to remove. It’s better to have the spout slightly loose than to have it stuck in the tree.
  7. Connect your tubing to a food grade collection container. We suggest using a large, clean spring water jug or soda bottle. Be sure to check the collection container daily, up to twice a day (morning and night) as the flow of sap varies by tree and temperature.
  8. When you’re finished collection, the equipment can be cleaned and reused next year. (Pro Tip: to ease the disassembly of the tube and spout, place in hot water again for 10 seconds to soften the tube.)

For more information on how to boil down your collected sap, identify the different types of maple trees and to learn more about sugaring, visit us online at http://www.kaitoridge.com

Need more help? Chat with us on Twitter or Instagram @KaitoRidge or email us at hello@kaitoridge.com

Kaito Ridge “How to Tap a Maple Tree” Instructions US Copyright 2013

Introducing The Sugarmaker’s Watch Cap™ by Kaito Ridge

Tapping sugar maple trees and collecting tree sap in the early Spring weather is one of life’s great joys for any outdoors enthusiast, so long as they’re adequately protected from the elements. New Englanders know that maple sugaring season is synonymous with navigating the sporadic, fast-moving Spring snow storms and surprise Nor’easters that make this harvest season unique.

Sugarmakers around the country face the challenge of staying warm and dry while installing their tree taps, drop lines and tubing for sap collection. Tubing installations must be monitored daily in all weather conditions, and sap is collected each day under all weather conditions. With this in mind, we’re proud to announce the Sugarmaker’s Watch Cap™.

Our watch cap is designed for the Sugarmaker and made to last. Each cap is handcrafted in New York, USA from 100% Wool sourced from US Woolen Mills. Wool is a natural fiber that’s naturally water resistant without the use of synthetics or chemicals. Our caps are built to US military spec standards and are the same caps issued to the US Navy. Trusted to perform at Sea and at home.

With performance and construction requirements established, we had to make sure that our caps were also aesthetically on point. The hats are based on classic US Navy or Fisherman’s watch cap styling. This classic design never goes out of style, made famous by icons such as actor Steve McQueen and explorer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau.

With sustainability as a priority, our packaging is minimal and our product tags are made from 100% recycled cotton t-shirts. No trees were harmed to produce paper for our packaging, protecting trees for future generations of sugarmakers!

Two colorways are now available, black and orange. Black is classic and matches any outdoor gear or casual wear for a sleek look. Orange provides additional safety and high visibility while working out in the sugarbush. Available now on Amazon.

When Does Maple Sugaring Season Start?

The start of maple sugaring season varies each year depending upon two important variables: weather and location.

The season typically runs from January to April, and sap can run for several periods during these four months. In the 2017 season, warmer weather here in Connecticut started the season off early in January and ran through March. We had above average temps by the third week of February which resulted in a crazy sap flow – more than we could keep up with!

By mid-March the weather warmed up so quickly that the buds on the maple trees started to sprout, and that marked the end of the sap collection for us. Even though temperatures dropped again for a few weeks in April causing sap flow, it was not collectable because the buds had already sprouted.

Once the buds sprout, the tree begins to produce nutrients that spur leaf growth – yet it can be tasted in the sap and is not pleasant. It’s nature’s way of letting us know the season is over. We refer to that as the sap tasting “buddy”.

It’s pretty common in recent years here in Connecticut to have an early start to the season, so we have been tapping in mid-January due to warm weather patterns. However, January 2018 started out with historically cold temperatures below zero, and the thaw did not come until later towards the end of the month. Timing when to tap your trees is a balance of looking at your current week of temperatures, while looking closely at the 10-day forecast in your area.

If you’re located further North such as up state New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine or in the Midwest such as Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa  where weather and temperatures are typically colder, your tapping may not begin until February. The season lasts well into April up north in states like Vermont and New Hampshire as it stays colder much later into April.

States located farther South such as Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, New Jersey and Kentucky may find that their season starts earlier and ends earlier than those of us located in New England. It would not be uncommon for people tapping in those states to end their season in mid to late March as the weather warms up and stays warm.

To read more on when to tap your maple trees, see our other posts here.

Have a specific question about when to tap maple trees in your area? You can always send us a message on Facebook and Instagram!