Hottest climate for Acer saccharum

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Deneb1978, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi all,

    I was wondering what is the warmest climate that you could grow Acer saccharum in (as I know this tree is a cold temperate plant). Would it grow in the tropics or subtropics? and if so, could you make maple syrup with the sap? A friend of mine who lives in Mexico wants to try and grow one....
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The very closely related Acer skutchii, syn. Acer saccharum subsp. skutchii, is actually native to Mexico south to the mountains of Chiapas, and also Guatemala.

    However, the main problem is that you need cold sub-zero weather to harvest maple sap for syrup making; in warm conditions above freezing, it ferments faster than you can gather it. That's why all maple syrup is produced in the far northern parts of the species' range, where it can be gathered while temperatures are below zero to prevent fermentation. Sorry, but syrup production in Mexico would be a complete non-starter. Even typical Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum subsp. saccharum) is native south to northern Louisiana, but they can't make syrup there either as it is too warm.
     
  3. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    That's really interesting.. I figured there was a reason why maple syrup could only be produced in specific areas such as Northeastern North America but I never knew why... we don't even really produce it here on the West Coast despite the fact that we have many sugar maples here I guess owing to the warmer climate. It's good though that my friend could at least probably grow some form of the tree for ornamental purposes.. but if the temperatures never get below 0 where he is, would you have bright coloured foliage in the fall or would the tree keep its leaves and eventually die?
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    What altitude is he at? I'd suspect he'll have difficulty growing any Sugar Maple relative in the tropical lowlands, but if he is fairly high up, e.g. Mexico City or higher, it should be possible to grow A. skutchii at least. Good autumn colour is unlikely though, as that also depends on cold temperatures; most likely the leaves would hang on till November and then drop off dull brown to yellowish.
     
  5. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Actually, he's in the city of Monterrey in northern Mexico. He virtually almost never gets any frost. He says the lowest that he's ever heard for his area was -5C about 40 years ago. Summers are scorching hot and relatively dry (45C some years). I'm not sure how well a sugar maple could survive those conditions....
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The best Sugar Maple relative to try there would probably be Bigtooth Maple Acer grandidentatum (syn. Acer saccharum subsp. grandidentatum), that is more drought tolerant than others in the group. I'd think it would succeed with a bit of irrigation.
     
  7. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Ok, I'll be sure to let him know to try Acer grandidentatum and to make sure it gets lots of water. But just out of curiosity, what is the warmest climate that you could produce maple syrup in? and if you tried to take the fermented sap from a hotter climate, would you be able to make an alcoholic drink out of it?
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You need to be somewhere that the temperature is fairly reliably below freezing when the sap starts flowing. Realistically, that probably means USDA zone 5 or colder.

    Alcoholic maple sap? Suspect it'd taste revolting, particularly as you'd have little or no control over what organisms do the fermenting, it would be impossible to keep 'wild' yeasts and bacteria out of the collection tubing. You'd more likely end up with maple vinegar. There's also the problem that the yeasts and other decay organisms would clog up the tubes quite fast.

    Just looked up - although Canada only has about a quarter of Sugar Maple's native distribution area, it produces 85% of maple syrup, with only 15% from the US (and almost all of that in states like Vermont). Shows how important it is to be cold!
     
    Soumil Yarlagadda likes this.
  9. Deneb1978

    Deneb1978 Active Member 10 Years

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    Interesting... yeah I can imagine maple vinegar would taste terrible...I wonder why nobody has ever bothered to try and cultivate maple syrup in East Asia.. places like Hokkaido in Japan or Vladivostok in Russia have a similar climate to Eastern North America.. even parts of Northeast China around Harbin might be able to do it as well.
     
  10. Soumil Yarlagadda

    Soumil Yarlagadda Active Member Maple Society

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    in the east coast, they could grow down to northern florida if babied, west to houston and even san antonio. on the western side of the us, anywhere except deserts in az , california, and utah. they coudl grow in some high elevation cities like CDMX in mexico.
     

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