Prior to tubing installation a site evaluation of your sugarbush should be completed. Things to consider are the abundance and size of trees; the slope aspect and percent; and the distance to the collection point or tank. Tree diameter determines whether a tree should be tapped and how many taps should be used. Slope percent, the vertical rise over the horizontal distance, is useful for determining mainline size and tubing layout. Slope percent may be determined with a hand level, Abney, or clinometer. These inexpensive instruments may be purchased from Forestry Suppliers and will make the mainline layout more efficient.
Slope aspect, the compass direction a hillside faces, is important because it determines the microclimate of the sugarbush. The compass direction a slope faces determines the relative amount of sunlight, wind exposure, and length of time in snow cover the slope receives. South facing slopes are preferable for a sugarbush because they warm up earlier than north or east facing slopes. This allows for sap production earlier in the season, and facilitates faster thawing of tubing and mainlines earlier in the day. The distance to collection points or tanks, measured by pacing, calculates the amount of mainline required.
After these evaluations are completed, the next step is to map the sugarbush. Show the low and high points, roads, streams, direction of the slop, and the location of tree concentrations and the number of taps. The direction of slope, tree location, and the number of taps will help determine your mainline location, the amount of mainline and tubing required, the approximate number of tubing fittings needed, and the location and capacity of sap storage tanks.