Birch sap collection in Belarus: Rules and stats

Birch sap collection in Belarus: Rules and stats

Photo: Julia's diets

It’s already the middle of March. So, it's time to extract birch sap!

The CTV TV channel has interviewed Oksana Petrulevich, adviser of Wood Product Realization Department of the Forestry Ministry of Belarus.

This year, March is cold and frosty. Do weather conditions have an impact on birch sap extraction?

Оксана Петрулевич

Oksana Petrulevich, adviser of Wood Product Realization Department of the Ministry of Forestry of Belarus:
Temperature should be above zero to start birch sap extraction.

What should the temperature be outside?

Oksana Petrulevich:
Night temperature shouldn’t fall below zero. Then, the sap moves intensively.

When should the sap be collected? How could we understand that?

Oksana Petrulevich:
Usually, sap is collected in March or April. There are different ways to understand that the sap will flow. For example, you could stab birch with an awl. If the sap starts to flow, you can collect it.

Where are people allowed to collect birch sap? Are there any restrictions?

Oksana Petrulevich:
The Forest Fund determines special areas in which people are permitted to collect the sap.

How to determine in which sector it is allowed to collect the sap?

Oksana Petrulevich:
There is information about such sectors on the website of forestry enterprise.

What are the criteria for choosing birches? Is the ecology taken into account?

Oksana Petrulevich:
There are certain characteristics that determine birch sap extraction areas. One of these characteristics is tree thickness.

Only trees more than 20 cm in diameter are used.

How should we drill a tree for sap extraction?

Oksana Petrulevich:
Any instrument for wood bleeding could be used. But it is important to meet the characteristics of wood collection specification. The diameter of drilled channel should not be more than one cm, and the depth should not exceed three cm.

What should we do after sap extraction? How to close a tree cut?

Oksana Petrulevich:
After harvest season, all the jars have to be removed, and the holes should be closed with  wooden stoppers. Cuts are patched with lime or garden ointment.

Is it possible to drain all the sap from tree? And how to understand when we should stop sap extraction?

Oksana Petrulevich:
Sap flow stops when buttons are blooming. Accordingly, it is impossible to extract all the sap.

Do we need any documents to collect birch sap?

Oksana Petrulevich:
You don’t need any documents if you collect sap on authorized areas.

Also it's free of charge.

How much sap could be collected without documents?

Oksana Petrulevich:
You can collect as much sap as you wish.

How to determine its quality?

Oksana Petrulevich:
When you give the sap to a processing plant, it is tested in the laboratory. Here, the sap’s quality and composition are studied.

How much sap do the Belarusians collect every year?

Oksana Petrulevich:
Annually, people in Belarus collect about 16,000 tons of birch sap.