Maple Sap Collection Instructions


Once the trees are tapped, it is necessary that someone go out every evening to collect that day’s sap. People who want to help collect sap should plan on doing so around 5:00-ish, so all the sap from that day is collected, and little to none is left for the next day. Two people may sign up to go out together (highly recommended — hiking alone on slippery, muddy ground is not a good idea) for each day. Here is the procedure to follow:

  1. If you have not already done so, it is necessary to first sign up for sap collection. That will also allow you to check to make sure someone else hasn’t already signed up, will allow other students to know what days are available, and will allow faculty and staff to see who’s scheduled.
  2. Make sure you have contact information (phone &/or e-mail) for your sap-collection partner. (Note: when you sign up online, as you submit your data, the Web page will attempt to open a mail-to window to send you each other’s e-mail addresses. Please send that message so you both have the other person’s address.) That way, if something comes up, you can get in touch with the other person. Also, make sure the two of you agree on a time to meet.
  3. Plan on meeting outside the “front” (courtyard-side, not greenhouse side) door of the McDonough building. The equipment you will need is located to the left of that door, as you face the building.
  4. The equipment that should be there includes: New Garbage Can
  5. Carboy on Backpack
  6. You will need to take with you the backpack, the funnel, the meterstick, and ONE copy of the sap-collection sheet. Record your names, seat numbers, the date, day of the week, and your “start” time on the sap-collection sheet.
  7. The 12 buckets from which you will be collecting sap are located along/near “North Maple Creek,” to the west of the front circles and flagpoles, and to the north of the west parking lot.
    (Click this image for a larger version.)
  8. Tree Map
    Buckets 1-4 Across the Creek
  9. Start collecting from the farthest-away buckets, first, so you have the heaviest load to carry the shortest distance.
    (This photo shows buckets 1 through 4 as viewed from across the creek near bucket #8.)
  10. At each bucket: Full Bucket with Sap Dripping Measuring Depth in Bucket
    1. Tilt the lid up and insert the meterstick into the sap, 0-cm end down. Read the depth of sap in that bucket (to 1 decimal place will suffice), and record it in the appropriate box on the sap-collection sheet.
    2. Pouring Sap into Carboy
    3. Lift the bucket off the hook, remove the lid from the carboy on the backpack, and use the funnel to guide the sap as you pour it into the carboy.
    4. Bucket 12 on Tree
    5. Replace the bucket onto the hook and lower the lid so it is centered over and covering the bucket. Replace the lid on the carboy.
    6. Gather all equipment before moving on.

  11. Repeat the steps, above, for each bucket either until the carboy becomes full or until you have finished all the buckets.
  12. Measuring Depth in Carboy
  13. If at any point the carboy becomes full, take it back to the “garbage” can. Measure the depth of the sap in the carboy, record that number in the appropriate place on the sap-collection sheet, then pour the sap into the garbage can. Return to the woods to collect the rest of the sap.
  14. When you have collected sap from all 12 buckets, return to the “garbage” can. Measure the depth of the sap in the carboy, record that number in the appropriate place on the sap-collection sheet (note: if it was necessary to make multiple trips, you will have several numbers entered into that space — please add them together to get a total), then pour the sap into the garbage can (note: if you are collecting sap on a Sunday after a good weekend, there may not be room in the “garbage” can, so you may need to leave your newly collected sap in the carboy).
  15. Measuring Depth in Garbage Can Measuring Depth in Garbage Can
  16. After you have place all the sap you collected into the “garbage” can, also measure the depth of sap in there, and record that onto the data sheet.
  17. You do not need to measure the temperatures indicated on the data sheet, but if you happen to know the current air temperature, including that could be useful. Do make sure to include the names of both people and at least one person’s seat number. Circle the word that best matches the existing weather conditions. Record your stop time and number of trips on the data sheet.
  18. Make sure the lid is placed securely onto the “garbage” can, and make sure that you have returned ALL the equipment “behind” the can.
  19. As soon as feasible, go to a computer, go online, and submit an electronic copy of your data.
  20. If your professor requires you to put a copy of your sap-collection sheet in your lab notebook, as soon as possible either xerox a copy of your original data sheet for each person or just before/after you submit your data online, print out a copy of the online data sheet for each person.
  21. Give your original sap-collection data sheet to Ms. Carter (so we can make sure to gather all the data from all sap collection this season). Depending on what instructions your professor has given you, you may either turn the data sheet in to him/her to pass on to Ms. Carter, or give it to her, directly.

Points (Ms. Carter’s Students):

Each instructor will determine his/her own way of awarding any points for sap collection. Here is a description of how Ms. Carter will assign extra-credit points to her students.

Copyright © 2015 by J. Stein Carter. All rights reserved.
Chickadee photograph Copyright © by David B. Fankhauser
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