Double-Tapping To Suss Out New Spiles

by Tig Tillinghast

Two taps in one stain zone. Why?

Two taps in one stain zone. Why?

This year we’re replacing the vast majority of our “health spouts” with the new valved sap adapters, in the hopes that they’ll extend the season and give us the gift of additional maple syrup.

Being the skeptical sort, we’re taking 30 or 40 trees and double-tapping them so that we can see if indeed the valved sap adapters do continue to throw sap later into the season.

To set up this experiment, we’re tapping both spiles one right above the other. This won’t necessarily tell us how much sap each one produces, but it should tell us the period during which one sap is more active than another. If the current research bears out, the older taps will stop a week or so before the adapter-equipped ones. We placed the taps atop one another so as to minimize the staining done with the two holes. The sapwood stains in a largely vertical pattern (a couple feet above and below the hole), so this configuration of tapping should minimize additional damage to the tree. It also eliminates aspect as a factor affecting the timing of the tapholes drying.

Stay tuned, and we’ll have a decent anecdotal indication of effectiveness. Incidentally this should be biased toward the new valved sap adapters because our older taps are generally a couple years old, so they should be harboring the microorganisms that cause taphole drying.