With several species of maple growing in the North Country woods, the first step to maple sugaring is determining which trees to tap. While red maples and silver maples produce sap that can be boiled into syrup, the preferred species is the sugar maple, whose sap has a higher sugar content.
When the maple sugaring season begins, there is still snow blanketing the ground, and the trees are still winter bare. But if you look closely at the buds emerging at the tips of the branches, you’ll be able to pick out a sugar maple from a red maple. Bark, branch placement and other hints tell sugarers what they need to know in the first step of making syrup – which trees are the sugar maples, whose sweet sap boils down to maple syrup and sugar.