Maple sugaring: Buckets or Tubing?

Buckets or Tubing?

tubing for maple sapYou have a small quantity of taps and you wonder if you should use buckets or a gravity system with 3/16” tubing? Here are a few things to consider when making your decision.

If you are leaning towards buckets, keep in mind the days when you will be by yourself to collect the sap. Finding help on the weekends is not a problem, but sap can flow seven days a week. Even with buckets, collecting the sap quickly is key a good quality maple syrup and avoiding sap spoilage.

With buckets, you have to set up and remove them every year. With tubing, once it’s up, it’s there for a long time. However, you need to tap, check leaks and pull taps every season. Even though it is less time consuming as buckets, you still need help managing and maintaining the tubing system. Another thing to consider is the accessibility of your woods. If you are using buckets, you need to maintain access roads and trails to be able to collect the sap. Tubing allows you to collect the sap in one or a few collection points, limiting the need of so many trails.

RO means reverse osmosis - used in rapidly reducing maple sap

Whether you are using buckets or tubing, a reverse osmosis machine (RO) can save you time and money. ROs are available for any size producer. Do not underestimate its impact on your boiling time and your workload.

In any tubing operation, you need gravity to assist the sap flow. An important consideration when planning a tubing install is the natural slope of your sugarbush. You need a fairly steep grade to make it work. The tubing must go straight up the hill. For good results, you need a good height difference between the top of the tubing system and the bottom. The column of sap in the tubing then creates a natural vacuum that gets bigger as the height difference increase the top and the bottom of the line. This means the highest taps on top of the hill get the highest vacuum and that the vacuum slowly decreases as you go down.

Installing a 3/16” gravity system is a good transition step from buckets toward a full vacuum system! You can contact CDL with your questions. In Central Vermont, do not hesitate to contact Miles Supply, CDL Barre, for more guidance when deciding what system is right for you. 802-476-3963

(excerpted from CDL catalog below)

Serving Sugar Makers in Washington and Orange counties with CDL maple sugaring products at Miles Supply in Barre, VT

Open weekdays from 6:30–4:30 | open Saturdays only during sugaring season – Check hours here.

2021 maple sugaring - CDL sugaring equipment

icon for 2023 CDL maple sugaring catalogHere is the 2023_CDL Catalog* for maple sugaring supplies & equipment. Miles Supply is a CDL supplier for Central Vermont. We stock a lot of what you need – and can order supplies and equipment for you in this catalog. Much of our staff are sugarers too, along with expertise from CDL.
Although we stock popular items, we don’t have everything in this catalog. You may want to call 802-476-3963 to make sure we have what you need, of course we’ll be happy to order it for you and to have it ready for you to pick up! (*prices subject to change)

Pick-up a paper copy at the store. 143 Boynton St Barre VT (across bridge from Spaulding High School)

Open weekdays from 6:30–4:30 

143 Boynton St, Barre, VT 05641