Kentucky Maple Syrup E-News
Kentucky Maple Syrup E-News is published by the University of Kentucky Forestry and Natural Resources Extension team. This periodic E-News shares up-to-date information about programs and other items of interest to producers and fans of Kentucky maple syrup.Subscribe
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Frequently Asked Questions
In order to collect the sap the trees must be tapped. In Kentucky, this takes place in late December or early January. Tree tapping consists of drilling a 5/16” hole 2” deep into the tree. A plastic hollow spout (tap) is tapped into the tree. The sap will flow out of this tap into a container or into a tubing system so the sap can be collected and evaporated in a sugar house. A sugar house or sugar shack is a building where the maple sap is evaporated into maple syrup.
Most farms in Kentucky tap less than 2,000 trees. However, if you have two or three trees you can tap them and make your own maple syrup in your back yard. Many Kentucky producers will not tap a tree less than 8’ in diameter. If the maple tree measures 8”-18” one tap can be made in the tree. If the tree measures 18”-24” two taps can be installed in the tree if the tree has a diameter greater than 24” then 3 taps can be installed in the tree. Each tap will yield 5-15 gallons of sap per season.
The maple sap is collected only during the winter months when the temperatures are below freezing during the night and above freezing in the day. The sap flows when the trees thaw.
The end of the season differs each season depending on the weather. When the winter temperatures start to warm the maple tree buds will start to swell. When this happens the chemistry of the sweet maple sap changes from pure and sweet to ick! A sugar maker can detect this change when the taste of the maple syrup gets “buddy”. This is the end of the maple season.