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Made maple syrup last year for the first time ever, with a mix of 7/16 plastic spiles and a pack of 3/16 inch spiles I bought from Amazon. Yes 3/16 inch, not a mistake, not 5/16 inch. As last year was a very poor sugaring off year (even the local sugar bush had extremely low production) I do not know if my low collection amount was also due to the smaller sized spiles. I used the larger spiles in my biggest trees. I am tapping Manitoba maples (box elders) which don't generally get as big or live as long as other maples and I am only tapping trees that are in my yard so I do want to keep the damage to a minimum as all my trees are precious. Should I switch to larger (5/16) spiles or will the 3/16 spiles be okay? A small reduction in the amount I collect would be all right with me if it is better for the tree.

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    A smaller tube would presumably draw liquids from a smaller zone resulting in less production ; but worth a try. I used 5/8" metal tubing , but I only used one tube in a 12" diameter tree. That worked well. I hung 2 gallon buckets on the metal tubes. I had silver maples but I could only find information on sugar/black maples. Interesting that you are getting results from box elders. Jan 22 at 16:14
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    It is not sap , it is "juice. I found that the juice stops when the sap starts and the buds start growing. For awhile I was concerned that I would not be able to stop flow , but it stops on its own ( in Silver Maples). Jan 22 at 16:20
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I don't know where your information on 2020 production is coming from, but the Maple News reports that production in the US (Vermont, New York, Maine) was a record, also in Quebec. The industry provides guidelines for how many spiles in a tree of a certain size, so you might want to get the recommendations for your area. A study by Wilmot, Perkins, Stowe and van den Berg concluded that the flow was pretty much the same from smaller spiles, the small spiles did less damage to the tree and were easier to work with.

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    There is a publication for everything! They call it "sap" , so I am wrong; but it is different from the sap in a leafed out tree. Jan 22 at 20:56
  • Thanks for the info. Western Manitoba is a looooong way away from Quebec and Vermont! We had a very bad local weather pattern settle over us and no one around here got very much from their taps. Feb 12 at 4:29

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