The amount of maple syrup you can make with the sap collected from a single tree will vary based on a few important factors, like the size and location of the tree, the relative vigor of the tree, the daily temperature swings, and the timing of when you tap the tree.
In 2019 and 2020, I carefully measured the amount of sap collected from two silver maple trees in my backyard. In 2019, I collected ~38 gallons of sap from two trees (with three total taps combined). In 2021, I harvested 5 gallons of sap from the larger of the two trees (2 taps total). Using a sap: syrup ratio of 40:1, each tree would have produced ~7.6 cups in 2019 and ~2 cups of syrup in 2021, if all of the sap was converted to syrup.
|Unit||Feb 10 to Feb 16||Feb 17 to Feb 23||Feb 24 to Mar 2||Mar 3 to Mar 9||Mar 10 to Mar 16||Mar 17 to Mar 23||Mar 24 to Mar 30||Mar 31 to Apr 6||Apr 7 and later||Total|
|Measured weight of harvested sap in grams||3959||2756||4124||6059||0||2228||0||0||0||19126|
|calculated gallons sap (density 1 g/mL)||1.05||0.73||1.09||1.60||0.00||0.59||0.00||0.00||0.00||5.05|
|Estimated cups of syrup yield (8 oz.)||0.42||0.29||0.44||0.64||0.00||0.24||0.00||0.00||0.00||2.02|
The timing of when you tap your tree
The Maple syrup harvesting season only lasts for about 6 to 8 weeks, once you tap the tree, in an average year. The timing of when you tap the tree has a dramatic impact on how much maple syrup you will get from each tree. If you tap the tree too early in winter, the cold weather will shut down the run, with the sweet sugar you desire frozen in the roots, diminishing your yield. If you tap too late in the year, the tree branches will bud, turning the syrup you would make bitter, while the sap flow also slows down to a trickle.
If you time it just right, you’ll be rewarded with gallons of sap from a single tree. In 2019, I had pretty good timing and harvested 38 gallons of sap from 2 trees. In 2021, I just tapped the larger tree, but got the timing wrong and only collected 5 gallons of sap. I’m convinced that the timing was the greatest factor in creating the average range of 5 – 19 gallons of sap per tree.
How much sap does one maple tree produce in a day?
Maple sap is typically harvested over a 6-8 week period. The sap will run differently every day, during that time, based on the temperature at night and during the day. When days are too cold or too hot, barely any sap will be collected. By comparison, the biggest volumes are collected when the weather is just right. I have personally measured 1-3 gallons from a single tree on the best days and 5-19 gallons for the entire season.
Can I make maple syrup from one tree?
You absolutely can make maple syrup from one tree. In an average year, plan on a single tree providing ~3 to 20 gallons. That is a huge range, but there are a lot of variables that will affect the total yield. In 2021, I started the season late and collected 5 gallons of sap, which was enough to make approximately one pint of maple syrup. In 2019, by comparison, my per tree average was ~19 gallons, which would yield just under 4 pints of maple syrup.
How big does a tree have to be to tap it for maple syrup?
A maple tree can be safely tapped once it has a circumference or girth greater than 31.5 inches and a diameter of about 10 inches across. A silver maple tree with a 31.5-inch circumference will be about 30 years old, while a sugar maple with the same measurements will be about 50 years old. Learn how to calculate the age of trees here.
What to read next
If you want to make maple syrup from one tree in your yard, you’re going to need some inexpensive equipment. Learn more about the equipment you need here.