Tapping Doesn’t Seriously Damage Maple Trees (But Don't Plug Holes)

Tapping Doesn’t Seriously Damage Maple Trees (But Don't Plug Holes)

Yum! Who doesn’t love maple syrup’s golden, gooey goodness? It’s sweet like caramel but with a hint of natural woodiness.

Of course, we’re talking about the good stuff here–the 100% organic, straight-from-a-tree maple syrup.

So, if you’ve been gazing at your maple tree wondering if it’s big enough to tap, you’ve likely also questioned if tapping would damage your tree.

Learn if you can harvest and slurp up that maple syrup without hurting your beloved maple trees.

Tap On! Tapping Doesn’t Seriously Damage Maple Trees (If Done Right)

Trees are resilient. They can recover from a small hole so that you can capture their maple syrup!

Why doesn’t tapping damage maple trees?

Drilling a hole does make a wound, but if done right, your tree can handle tapping!

When you drill a hole to tap your tree for maple syrup, it’s generally 2” deep and less than 0.5” wide. To your mature 50-foot maple tree, that’s just a teeny, tiny hole!

Plus, the area you drill through is filled with millions of small vessels that allow sap to flow. Hurting a few simply isn’t a big deal.

By the time you remove the spout at the end of maple season, your tree will begin to repair itself. It will grow new wood to cover its tapping wound, and within a few years, the hole will be completely enclosed!

Reduce the chances of damaging maple trees when tapping with these tips:

  • Use a sharp, clean drill.

  • Drill a hole that’s 2” to 2.5” deep.

  • Remove the spout at the end of the season so that your tree can begin to seal the wound.

  • If you tap the same tree each year, drill holes at least 6” apart from previous holes.

How big does a maple tree have to be to tap it? How many taps per maple tree?

Don’t overdo it. Wrap a measuring tape around the tree, four feet from the tree’s base, to determine its circumference.

  • If your tree is 31”, don’t tap it!

  • If your tree is over 31” but under 44” round, drill one hole.

  • If it’s over 44” but under 60” round, you can drill two holes.

  • If its trunk measures more than 61” round, you can drill three holes.

Should you be plugging maple tap holes at the end of the season?

Nope! No need for you to plug maple tap holes with twigs or anything else.

Trees know how to heal their wounds all on their own. That’s why you don’t have to use pruning paint either.

Spot sap leaking from a fruit tree? Click here to find out if it’s edible and tasty like maple sap.

  • The Tree Doctor March 8, 2018 >Hi Sean, We recommend drilling a new hole. The vessels around the old hole have likely been damaged a bit if the original hole appears out of shape. Trying to fit your existing tap into an oversized hole would also likely result in leakage. It is extremely important to drill your holes perpendicular to the trunk. I would find a new location at least six inches away from the existing hole. Hopefully you find this helpful! Please feel free to reach back out if you have any questions!
  • Sean Izydore March 7, 2018 >I have a sugar maple with two taps in it. The first one had the hole rounded out a little with the drill bit and there was constant leaking around the tap and down the tree. After about a week and a half it has not completely stopped producing sap, which I assume means that it has sealed itself. Can I redrill the existing hole or maybe move a few inches and retap, or should I just leave that one completely alone for this year and just worry about the other tap?
  • Sean Izydore March 6, 2018 >I have a sugar maple with two taps in it. The hole got slightly rounded and there was a good amount of leakage around the tap. It’s been about two weeks and I’m pretty sure that it has completely sealed itself and I’m not getting anything. Is it safe to pull it and either redrill the hole or drill a new hole and retap as long as it’s six inches away from the original hole?
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