Tapping & Tubing


Fix lines with fittings and a tool, not tape

Peter Gregg | March 11, 2021

SALEM, N.Y.—Just say no to tape.

Experts advise the best way to fix leaks on a pipeline system is with a tool and a fitting, not black electric tape.

“It is fine as a temporary fix, but WAY better to do it right and cut out the leak and put in a fitting,” said Dr. Tim Perkins of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill Center, Vt. MORE ]


Fast! Lapierre touting new mainline FlexClip fitting, installs in less than 30 seconds

Peter Gregg | November 26, 2020

DANBY, Vt.—Lapierre Equipment is touting its new FlexClip mainline entrance fitting designed to be fast, easy and fun to install.

It’s the latest industry offering in the race to create leak proof saddles.

“We claim it’s the fastest install on the market,” said designer Jean Francois (Jeff) Goulet, research and development man at the company, along with company founder Donald Lapierre and son Carl Lapierre. “You just click, screw and drill.”

The black nylon fitting features a pre-stuck-on gasket that secures and self-aligns tight to the pipe. MORE ]


Sugarmaker shares experiences with 3/16 sanitation

Art Krueger | September 3, 2020

SHREWSBURY, Vt.—My family’s sugarhouse finally made some significant breakthroughs using 3/16 tubing.

We managed to completely empty our woodshed of 30 cords and needed to scrounge several cords more to finish up. Certainly a measure of success since, after all, emptying the woodshed is the real objective.

Additionally, we’ve had our best year ever reversing the disappointing trend of the past several years.

We’ve even had to sell over 5000 gallons of sap to a neighbor as we were not able to boil it down fast enough.


Avoid stained wood when tapping

Peter Gregg | August 6, 2020

NEW CASTLE, Ind.—Sugarmakers are encouraged to use longer drops, shallower tapholes and spend more time looking for good tapping surface when they begin tapping for the 2021 season.

That's the message from University of Vermont Extension maple specialist Mark Isselhardt when he spoke to Indiana producers during the annual meeting of the Indiana Maple Syrup Producers Association in New Castle, Ind. last winter.

“You will get 75 percent less sap if you tap into stained wood,” Isselhardt said.

Indiana sugarmakers who tend to use sap bags or buckets rather than pipeline in their flat woods are better suited to spend time seeing how each tree is producing.

“On buckets you know what each tree is doing whereas on tubing it all blends,” he said. MORE ]


Sugarmaker shares experiences with 3/16 tubing sanitation

Brandon Daniels, CDL West Virginia & Virginia | July 22, 2020

DAWSON, W.V.—There has been much discussion and some research given to 3/16” and the reduction in flows that most see after the first season.

The information in this article will not be referred to as research, but it will be presented to help maximize your production on 3/16” tubing in seasons two through ten.

Before we jump into that, I will provide a little more information on our facilities and my background.

I started producing maple syrup over thirty years ago with a 2x3 stainless pan in the back yard and ten taps as a young teenager.
This has grown to a modern state of the art operation.

I am running 2,400 taps +/- 10 on 3/16” tubing in five different areas. These taps run into round bottom stainless tanks produced for maple sap.

In all of the areas we have taps, they are within approximately 1.5 miles of each other.

In all five of these locations, there are taps on slopes that face more than one direction and on the 2,400 taps, we have taps that face every direction on the compass. MORE ]


Sapline and spout recycling program in Northern Vermont

Richard Backer, Northwest Vermont Solid Waste District | May 26, 2020

GEORGIA, Vt.—Sugarmakers can recycle old tubing this spring instead of throwing it out with the trash.

The Northwest Vermont Solid Waste District (NWSWD) operates a small Material Recovery Facility (MRF) located at its administrative office adjacent to the Interstate 89 - Exit 18 interchange in Georgia, Vt.

The district is a municipally chartered organization fully serving 19 towns in Grand Isle and Franklin counties. NWSWD has an ongoing modest program to recover and recycle HDPE sapline.

Small and large syrup producers and county associations are encouraged to call NWSWD with inquiries or questions on recovery and recycling HDPE sapline.

Please call NWSWD at 802.524.5986.

If the sapline is clean, without contaminate plastics including spouts, tees or PVC we will take tubing from anyone in the state.

Sugarmakers in other states are welcome to bring their tubing to us as well, as long as it's clean.


Vermont sugaring experts offer tapping tips

Peter Gregg | March 3, 2020

UNDERHILL CENTER, Vt.—Town Meeting Day in Vermont, this year March 3, has traditionally been the day sugarmakers get back in the woods to start tapping.

While that old adage is not as true as it once was, with most bigger operations tapping in January or February, many sugarmakers will be out drilling this week in Vermont and across the U.S. Maple Belt.

Meanwhile, industry experts from Vermont were on the pre-season meeting circuit this winter touting good tapping practices.

“Proper tapping is critical,” said Dr. Timothy Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple Research Center as part of the University of Vermont.


UVM compares 3/16” and 5/16” tubing sanitation

T.D. Perkins and A.K. van den Berg, University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center | January 3, 2020

UNDERHILL, Vt.—It is well recognized that microbial contamination of tubing systems can result in a substantial loss in sap yield if untreated.

Over a decade of research and maple industry experience has produced a range of possible strategies to address sanitation-related issues in 5/16” tubing systems (Perkins et. al. 2019).

Although rapidly adopted by many maple producers, due to the relatively short time period in which it has been in widespread use, there is far less understanding of sanitation in 3/16” tubing systems (Wilmot 2018).

To address this knowledge deficit, we conducted a multi-year study at the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center to examine sanitation-related losses in 3/16” tubing systems to determine which approach(es) might best mitigate sap losses due to sanitation. MORE ]


Sugarmaker weighs in on cleaning 3/16 tubing

Arthur Krueger | August 4, 2019

SHREWSBURY, Vt.—He are my 2019 observations on Calcium Hypochlorite bleach for cleaning 3/16” sap tubing at our sugarbush in Central Vermont.
After the 2018 season we cleaned our 3/16” tubing system with calcium hypochlorite bleach. This bleaching solution is made by adding 1 pound of “Zappit” Cal-Shock 65 to 200 gallons of water.
On 80 percent of the sugarbush we cleaned the system by pumping up air and the bleach solution through the laterals. Later we cleaned the drops by squirting bleach solution into the spouts using wash bottles.
These spouts were either replaced with new spouts or used bleached spouts for 2019.
(I found that it is possible to easily reuse a 3/16” fitting by boiling it and removing the bit of attached tubing with pliers. The fitting is not damaged by this treatment and is able to maintain high vacuum. We found no difference in performance between these used bleached spouts and brand new spouts.) MORE ]


November tappers might go again

Peter Gregg | October 25, 2018

HOBART, N.Y.—With the calendar turning to November, some sugarmakers are getting ready to start their season.

“We might do about 2500 next week,” said Ben Holscher of Roxbury Mountain Maple in the Catskills region of New York.

Last year the Holschers tapped November 15.

Their effort was not necessarily part of a “fall tapping” experiment, but rather to get a very early start on the 2018 sugaring season.

“We’ve been tapping earlier and earlier in January anyway,” said Ben Holscher, 28, one of eight siblings in the Holscher family. “So what’s it going to hurt going a month or so earlier than that? Might as well.”

“Yeah, it’s been weird,” said Dave Holscher, family patriarch, during a boil last Dec. 6. “We’ve had better sap weather the past three weeks then we did all last year during sugaring season.”

In their valley, November and early December gave them a long three week stretch of perfect freezing nights in the 20s and daytime highs in the 40s.

Trees were gushing.


Spout color – Does it matter?

Dr. Timothy D. Perkins, Abby van den Berg, Mark Isselhardt, 
Brian Stowe and Wade Bosley | Sept. 28, 2018

UNDERHILL CENTER, Vt.—Among the many things that are debated in the maple industry, the effects of spout color on sap yield seem to have as many opinions as there are colors in the rainbow.

Spouts from maple equipment manufacturers are now available in a wide range of colors. Often this selection of color is simply a tool for large-scale producers to keep track of different tappers by assigning them a color, but producers also want to know if spout color has any effect on sap yield.

There has not been a lot of recent research on the subject. Centre Acer conducted a study a few years ago, which concluded that white spouts produced 7% more sap than black spouts (as reported by CDL in their 2018 equipment catalog, page 10).

However, there is likely to be variation from one year to the next depending upon the weather regime experienced during each season. Other factors such as spout design, manufacture, and overall spout/tubing sanitation levels are also likely to slightly affect the results.


Strategies for maintaining high sap yields with 3/16 tubing

Tim Wilmot | August 3, 2018

Sap yields from 3/16” tubing on a slope compared to yields from 5/16” tubing are generally very good in the first year, particularly with gravity tubing, but also in many cases when using a pump—as described in two recent articles in The Maple News.

However, yields reported by many users begin to decline, usually by a moderate amount, after the first year. This is particularly true if the tubing is not cleaned at the end of the season.

In part, this is due to the nature of the tubing, which holds onto sap much more tightly than 5/16” tubing, generating natural vacuum in this manner; in some cases it also holds onto sap containing bacteria and yeasts. MORE ]


3/16ths guru Tim Wilmot: Using 3/16th tubing with a pump

Timothy Wilmot Researcher, Dominion & Grimm Inc. Retired, University of Vermont Extension Maple Specialist | Jan. 25, 2018

In addition to the advantages that 3/16” tubing provides in creating natural (gravity) vacuum on a slope, there is also an advantage that small diameter tubing can provide in some pumped systems. As is true with an all gravity system, the goal is to maximize vacuum at each taphole. Research has shown that an increase in vacuum at the taphole is accompanied by a steady increase in sap production—the relationship is about 5% more sap for every additional inch of mercury. In many pumped systems, because of friction loss and the capabilities of the pump itself, the vacuum at the taphole is less, sometimes much less, than the maximum that is possible at that elevation.

On a slope, the vacuum that can develop in 3/16” lines can increase what is achieved in the mainline by the pump, and this increase may boost production. The vacuum in the small lines is developed by the weight of the sap, while the vacuum in the mainline comes from the steady removal of air by the pump; together they form what I call a hybrid. This type of system is somewhat newer than the all gravity 3/16” system, and its design, for example the optimum number of taps per line, is less straightforward.

This article summarizes the research that I have conducted on 3/16” hybrid systems; unless otherwise noted, all of the results reported here are my own.


3/16ths guru Tim Wilmot. The gravity of it all.

Tim Wilmot, University of Vermont Ext. Maple Specialist (retired) Researcher for Dominion and Grimm Inc. | Jan. 13, 2018

The use of 3/16” tubing for sap collection began as a series of experiments that I conducted while working at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center.

The goal was to devise a gravity sap collection method that would improve production for sugarmakers with small operations who typically collected much less sap than producers using vacuum pumps.

Over the past 8 years I have continued to conduct research with this tubing in an effort to learn more about its potential uses and possible shortcomings, both for gravity and pumped sap collection.


Sugaring in December

PETER GREGG | Oct. 1, 2017

Some call it defying Mother Nature, others would call it taking advantage of her, but the fall tappers are at it again.

“I only planned on having enough sap to boil on the stove,” said Cody Armstrong, one of the few brave souls who tapped trees this fall. “I thought it would be cool.” MORE ]


The Take Down Master

Peter Gregg | April 2017

It’s hard to believe Tony Van Glad is still smiling.

Van Glad, a 6,300-tap producer in the Catskills region of New York, is one of the few sugarmakers who put up and then take down their entire pipeline system every season. MORE ]


Sugarmakers invent gadget for easy droplines

Caleb Schrock & Jeremy Swartzentruber | December 2016

We have done tubing installations and made droplines so we know how time consuming, strenuous and monotonous making drop-lines can be. 
We knew there had to be better MORE ]


Man vs. Squirrel

Peter Gregg |

The arch enemy of sugarmakers is the squirrel.
More than maybe any other force of nature—a bad season, a bad wind, fallen branches—it’s the hordes of gray and red squirrels that cause the most costly damage in the woods, chewing up tubing, fittings and spouts. MORE ]


Results in from 2016 3/16” tubing research

Stephen Childs, NYS Maple Specialist |

The 2016 maple sap season offered an interesting look at the effects of 3/16” tubing on vacuum without significant elevation drop and some comparisons of 3/16” tubing with and without the addition of mechanical vacuum. MORE ]


3/16 tubing thoughts and observations

Arthur G. Krueger, P.E. |

In the December 2015 issue of Maple News, a person discussing 3’16” tubing said that one needed 10’ of fall for the system to work. At best, 10’ would only give a vacuum of 9” of mercury (9” hg on your vacuum guage). Not exactly a high vacuum system. 40’ or 50’ of fall is required for high vacuum. If set up right, these systems will develop a high vacuum in the tubing itself without a pump or releaser. MORE ]


Going underground

Peter Gregg |

Mike Ross expects his underground pipeline to last a lot longer than he will.

“You get 150-year life out of PVC pipe,” he said during a 2015 tour for The Maple News at his RMG Family Maple orchard in Rudyard, located in the far right corner of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. MORE ]


Device eases tubing connections

Peter Gregg |

A relatively new invention is going into the woods this sugaring season that eliminates the need for that clunky tubing tool, the necessary evil when it comes to running lines. MORE ]