Sap flow is coming... are you ready for it?  Our family in mid-Missouri typically taps trees around January 15.  Your local Missouri climate and specific winter weather conditions might cause you to tap slightly earlier or later.  Hopefully when you read this, you still have plenty of time to research syrupmaking and obtain your supplies.



How many maple trees can  you tap?  How much time do you have during the sap flow months?  Do you like being outside in the winter?  How much firewood can you accumulate? (unless you use an outdoor propane burner like a turkey fryer or camp stove).  Are helpers available?   Syrupmaking can be a great wintertime hobby that doesn't involve a huge investment of money, but can be time consuming and your efforts may be frustrated by weather conditions.  It is a great pastime for children; they can be a help in the woods gathering sap but caution is required near any fire and the very hot liquids. 

You don't need a big grove of trees to get started.  If you have a few maple trees in your yard, collecting sap could be very convenient.  See the PROFILES link above to learn about some Missouri syrupmakers with very few trees.

The University of Minnesota has prepared a list of basic questions and answers about syrupmaking:   (For question 27, disregard their response.  Holes should be only 5/16” in diameter, and go into a tree only about 1.25” to 1.5” past the bark.)

Missouri Department of Conservation  has a great document for beginners called Guide to Backyard Maple Sugaring.  Beginners should start their reading here.  In addition to this document, the MDC conducts sugaring sessions during the sap flow season at several of its facilities throughout the state.  If you have no experience syrupmaking, please read this!    


Need more trees?

If you don't have enough trees to tap, perhaps you can collaborate with other property owners to accumulate enough sap to justify your effort and share costs of equipment.  And you don't have to find just sugar maples; you can tap silver maples (the trees with big "helicopter" seeds) or boxelders, black maples, red maples, sycamore and even walnut trees.  These other trees will require more sap to yield a given amount of syrup compared to the sap from sugar maple trees and may yield sap on a different schedule.