No, it’s not maple sugar time yet–this photo was taken last March, right here in Glen Rock. But I just read about an interesting discovery that links the sugar content of maple sap to the previous year’s seed production.
Scientists and farmers like have long known that the weather during sugaring season is related to the volume of sap production. But this new observation links seed production to the actual sugar content of the sap. It seems that trees can expend energy EITHER producing lots of seeds OR making sap with high concentrations of sugar. So a mast year, a year in which all the trees in an area produce more seeds than usual, means low sugar concentration the following spring. The researchers who made this discovery think it’s probably something farmers have known about for a long time. But now they know for sure.
Remember that it’s only our gorgeous native sugar maple, Acer saccharum, that produces the sap that’s boiled down into maple syrup. (Just another reason to despise the alien and invasive Norway maple.) However, the sap of several other trees, including birch and pine, can be collected and boiled down into syrup. And for general information about maple sugar production, check this site from the Cornell extension program.
And it’s only the sugar maple that produces those gorgeous oranges and reds of fall. If you need to plant a tree that will eventually be very large, consider a sugar maple.