Well, the warm weather has certainly peaked the interest in getting in the woods, tapping and getting ready for the 2016 season. The 50’s that we experienced recently, one would have thought that the trees are ready to tap. The people with tubing have already begun and many are done. They can tap early because their systems are closed to the atmosphere and the tap holes are sealed with the tubing system. The bag and bucket brigade for people like me must wait. If you tap too early the tap holes will dry up and you may not get any sap. This happened to me on a woods that faced to the north, was on a lake and the trees were not thawed out yet, and the frost was still in the ground. 250 buckets out and nothing the entire year for that woods. Oh well, it was a learning experience. I talked to a person who tapped 3000 already and only a couple trees were dripping.
The long term weather is calling for cold the first week of March then warming up about the 13th of March. I will be waiting until about March 10-15 to tap and hang my 2000 buckets. Once you tap, there is only a 3-4 week window of time that the tap holes are good. Once you drill the hole the tree begins to heal the wound. This is the time though to get your equipment in order, make sure your evaporator is in good shape, perhaps check for cracks in fire bricking and mortar and clean those flues in the flue pan. I do carry fire brick and mortar patch. I am looking forward to a good year and if weather forecasts hold, the middle two weeks of March looks excellent. It will be a great season.
I have plenty of supplies on hand, the blue bags and bag holders are the most popular and most economical for those starting out sugarin’. Its great fun for the kids if you have a couple of maple trees in the back yard to tap. They will always remember that. Have fun and enjoy the anticipation.
Oh … and if your curious as to whether the sap is running, solve the mystery and tap one or two trees!