The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted a research update with data to help maple and birch syrup producers respond to variable climate conditions.
The project has established baseline data for what are hoped to be continuing efforts to determine the optimal time to begin tapping birch trees in conjunction with maple production.
The report posted under the Maple tab at www.nnyagdev.org compares sap and syrup yields based on various tapping times of maple and birch trees at the Uilhein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid, and at the Paul’s Smith College Forest in Paul Smiths.
The trials conducted in January through May of 2018 included the tapping of paper and yellow birch trees immediately after finishing the tapping of maple trees, during mid-maple season, and during the post-maple production season.
Results showed sap collection was impacted by taphole closure, including maple trees that were tapped early in January, and with the birch trees likely due to bacterial buildup in the taphole before birch sap begins to flow.
The research suggests that using new spouts might mitigate taphole closure in birches, as they do in maple sap production, however, temperatures are higher during March than January and bacterial buildup in birch tapholes during March will occur faster than in maple tapholes during January.
For maple producers, the report notes that early pre-season tapping of maple trees is competitive with tapping in mid-February.
For more information, see the complete Comparison of Sap Yields Per Timing of Tapping Schedules for Maple and Birch Syrup Production report on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website.
Photo of March maple tapping provided by Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.