Tapping - Tapping holes are drilled into sugar maple trees late in the dormant period and the sap is collected and boiled to make maple syrup and maple sugar. Legend has it that the American Indians watched the squirrels tapping the trees and that is how the process started. Squirrels do bite into young maple and birch trees. The bite wounds are usually on the south or southwest side of the tree. The sun evaporates the sap and the squirrels return to eat the syrup. Sugar maple, Acer saccharum is the only tree tapped now for syrup. When a tree is 10 inches in diameter at 1.4 meters above ground, one tap hole is drilled into the tree. When the tree grows to 18 inches, 2 holes are drilled, and after 23 inches and above, 3 holes are drilled. The holes are usually about 1.5 centimeters in diameter and from 5 to 10 centimeters deep. A spile is pounded into the hole. The spile holds the bucket. In some modern operations, plastic tubing is connected to pipes forced into the tap holes. A vacuum is usually applied to keep the sap flowing. Further, pills of paraformaldehyde may be inserted into the tap holes. The pill blocks the plugging defense system, and the sap flows for a longer period. The paraformaldehyde kills the living contact parenchyma that surround the vessels. The contact parenchyma act as regulators for the vessel transport and the plugging of the vessels after injury and infection. The pill blocks the natural defense system and gives the advantage to pathogens that can spread rapidly and decay wood. The use of the pill does increase the amount of decay associated with tapping holes. If maple trees are tapped properly, they can be tapped for many years. Over tapping by mechanical tappers and the use of the paraformaldehyde pill have caused many sugar maple trees serious problems. Man too often wants too much too fast from nature. I understand such tree systems treated this way are dying from low pH precipitation? Note: Wood also as been removed from the sugar bush. They call it thinning. Then bags of so called fertilizer were applied to replace the functionality of the wood removed? What about water? What about calcium? What about system care? And, I do not mean, an old fashioned dentist.
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