UVM Proctor Page


  •  Wade Bosley, Maple Operations Manager at the UVM Proctor Maple Res. Ctr. in Underhill, Vt. demonstrates the proper stance to tap a tree.

Getting it right. Tapping tips for higher sap yield

There's a proper technique to tapping correctly and getting maximum sap


UNDERHILL CENTER, Vt.—Tapping. It isn’t as easy as simply drilling a hole in a tree.

Getting a good taphole in a good location is critical to achieve high yields.

Start with a sharp bit designed specifically for maple tapping, and sharpen or replace it after drilling about 2,500 holes.

Look over the tree closely for a spot where there are no defects, at least 2-4” side-to-side and 6-12” up-or-down from the previous year’s taphole.

Make sure it is in a position you are able to reach with the dropline.

Assume a stable footing position and with the drill on a high-speed setting drill straight in-and-out in one smooth motion.

Don’t try to drill way over your head – this will produce oblong tapholes and vacuum leaks.

The spout should be firmly seated in the taphole (go by sound and feel), but not be pounded in too deeply (which lowers sap yield).

A hammer designed for maple tapping is recom- mended to avoid over-driving spouts.

For an instructional video click on:

To recap, sugarmakers should: 

  • Look at tree as approaching

  • Identify old tapholes

  • Select spot to drill (dropline)

  • Place drill on that spot

  • Stabilize drill with two hands

  • Drill at full-speed

  • One single in-out motion

  • 2-3 seconds to drill hole