You should assess the number of tappable trees and overall stand
condition when developing your business plan. This factor may sound
simple, but prior to considering a sugaring operation, most people know
very little about their woodlots. A professional forester or a
Cooperative Extension Agent may be able to help you with stand
evaluation for use as a sugarbush. Determination of sap sugar content
will be helpful at this stage. You should drill a small diameter hole
(in spring or fall) and extracting a sap sample. The sugar content of
this sap can be measured most easily with a sap refractometer. While
this step is not essential, it will allow you to determine which of your
trees are the sweetest or the converse, which are the least sweet.
Furthermore, this will increase both your efficiency and profitability.
These trees should be semi-permanently marked (e.g. with a painted
number or aluminum tag) and a record should be kept.
Walking the stand after leafout will allow you to assess the stocking (number of trees relative to site capacity) of the stand. Considerations of stand thinning can be easily made at this stage. If a tubing system is to be used, low vigor trees and those to be involved in thinning may be avoided in a tapping operation. These trees usually produce sap with lower sugar content. Low sugar content sap is less profitable or even unprofitable. Wood resulting from these thinning can be sold or used as fuel wood for the evaporator.