Winter is almost over and spring is almost here; it's time to make maple syrup. Each season sugar makers have to drill a new hole if they want to collect sap. The reason for this has to do with how trees respond to wounds. When a hole is drilled into the stem of a tree, the tree responds to the wound and produces a barrier inside to prevent large infections from taking place. This process is called compartmentalization. Sugar maples are particularly good at making this barrier. It does take a while and this allows for sap to be collected for a few weeks but eventually, the tree heals over the wound, both internally and externally and will prevent large scale infections from happening. The staining associated with this response to the wound is much greater above and below the wound versus than side to side. If you have ever cut into a piece of sugar maple wood that's been tapped you have probably seen these long, narrow areas of staining. That stained wood will not conduct sap anymore. So sugar makers have to most new tap holes all around the stem in order to find clean wood. After the sugaring season is over, the tree starts growing again and the tree actually grows new wood over the old wood and where the wounding took place. Over time, a tree adds enough wood that you can tap directly above or below old tap holes but it may take 20 years for that to happen. Good, healthy trees will grow more wood faster. So it's a good idea for maple producers to carefully tent for their trees and make sure tree health is a priority.