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3 Tubing Techniques for Your Maple Operation

3 Tubing Techniques for Your Maple Operation

Posted by Leader Crew on Jan 24th 2023

Sugaring season is nearly upon us, and it is definitely the best time of the year. With that in mind, we thought we should review a few key tubing tips, before the sap starts running. Getting everything setup right in your sugarbush is key to collecting more sap and avoiding in-season headaches, allowing you to focus on making high-quality maple syrup.

  1. Support the mainline for your sugarbush using high tensile wire.

    This may seem simple and obvious, but this move makes a huge difference in the efficiency of your operation. Every mainline in your sugarbush should have a high tensile wire supporting it, using ties intermittently to keep it taut. Why? High tensile wire keeps your sap from freezing and increases syrup production. As you know, mainlines are extraordinarily heavy when they fill up with sap. Unless supported with wire, your mainline will sag, causing sap to freeze in the low spots on the line.

    Frozen sap can block your line, which is why supporting your mainline with high tensile wires is crucial for collecting all the sap that comes down the line. If your mainline sags and freezes in the middle of a great sap run day, you’ll end up getting nothing out of that line that day.

    Check out our video demonstration of how high tensile wire can support your mainline.

  2. Build a Sap Ladder.

    For newbies out there, first things first. What is a sap ladder?

    A sap ladder is a contraption, made of tubes and a fitting called a spider, that can lift sap up to 15 feet in elevation. This is possible because the tap holes give off enough CO2 that the liquid can lift up the line.

    Now let’s get into how to actually set up a sap ladder.

    You should always grade each mainline using a sight level. That way, each of them has a small amount of grade falling to your collection point. If you want a quick review on how to lay out your sugarbush, check out this video. Even if you lay out your sugarbush from the high point in the woods to the low point, you may still have some low spots that get in the way of sap running smoothly. You probably won’t have a perfect grade in every part of your woods.

    A sap ladder is an easy way to compensate for variations in grade in your sugarbush.

    To build your sap ladder, extend the mainline out over a low spot, and put in another mainline above that, on a grade, so that everything comes to a fitting on the end, called a spider. Then attach six 5/16 tubes to your fitting. The tubes will transport vacuum, air and liquid to the top spider, which then brings the whole mixture back to the wet and dry line. You can see a video demonstration of how to configure your sap ladder here.

    Want to dig even deeper into the wild world of sap ladders? Nick Wendel has recently come up with a new and interesting method of building a sap ladder.

  3. Avoid chews that ruin your line.

    One of the best parts of having a maple sugaring operation is getting to work in nature. Sometimes, however, enjoyment turns to aggravation when animals start chewing on your lines.

    A lot of the chews by animals (squirrels, mice and woodpeckers) happen on the end of the lateral line, at the very last tree – the dead end tree.

    The trick is to use a dead end tee so that part of the line, from the tee to the end hook, will be dead off (out of the vacuum system). That way, if the line gets chewed, it doesn’t affect your vacuum system. Here’s a detailed video describing dead end tees and how to use them.

    Want to know the best proactive way to avoid line chews by squirrels? Wear gloves when installing or working on your lines. That keeps oils from your skin from transferring to the lines. Just ask tubing expert Glen Goodrich (watch the whole video for a complete primer full of Expert Tubing Tips).

    And there you have it. Our top three pro tips for making your sugarbush tubing system stronger and more productive for sugaring season. Still have questions? Check out our FAQ blog here. Many of us are visual learners, and do better watching video tutorials, rather than skimming through blog posts. We get it. Check out our video resources here.