Maple Syrup: Nature's Spring Tonic. -- Since 1918

Thunder Over An Open Woods

Into the woods by 6:00 AM to start disconnecting the R/O. The membrane is out and half he lines disconnected. Back to the farmhouse by 6:45 AM.

40 and rain overnight. Cloudy all day with periods of rain. 45. A few bolts of lightning and thunder. Often predicts more snow. 1”-3” of snow forecast for Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Bottle tomorrow and plan to finish all the sap from the evaporator while the flue pan has water and cleaning soluiton.

Rain/Snow Mix Forecast

12 overnight. Glad we emptied the evaporator flue pan yesterday or the sap would have froze. Sunny most of the day. Up to 37. Clouds moved in late afternoon. Rain and rain/snow mix forecast for tonight and tomorrow.

Last year the season was just getting started.

Cold Today

Into the woods by 5:00 AM to work on emptying the evaporator. Got the fire going. Getting this boil right is important to emptying the evaporator. You have to fire enough to boil down the sap so there’s not much left, but can’t over fire and burn the pans. We did well. There’s about 13 gallons left to finish. We’ll fill the flue pan with water while we finish the syrup on the front pan.

Light snow started by 4:30 AM. Lasted until 5:30 AM. Got 1/2” of light fluffy snow. Then it got colder. Half the buckets were still up and they were filled with sap. The cold was going to make them full of ice. Had to get them down and emptied. Started by 7:00 AM. Had them all down and emptied by 7:45 AM. Back to the farmhouse by 8:00 AM.

Returned to the syrup building late this afternoon. Emptied the evaporator. Took off the flue pan and rinsed it. Replaced it. Remaining syrup is ready to cook down. Back to the farmhouse by 5:00 PM.

Dumping Sap

Most seasons we fight for every sap run and drop of sap. Today we dumped many full buckets as we started taking down taps. It felt off, but the sap wasn’t sweet to the taste. And the hydrometer showed 1 Brix when testing the sap. This reinforces that ending the season is the right decision.

Into the woods by 4:00 PM to start pulling taps. Half down.

29 overnight. Sunny and 42 today. The trees dripped well. Likely 350 to 400 gallons of sap because many buckets were full.

Back to the farmhouse by 5:00 PM.

Shutting Down Due To Low Brix Sap

Made the decision to shutdown the season due to low Brix in the sap. It’s uncomfortable because the sap is still running and the weather patterns are favorable. But with sap at 1 Brix or a little above, there’s a lot of water. With the R/O, it’s feasible to cook this sap, but we’ve had an above average crop and made our best syrup ever with the Grade A, Golden, Delicate. We shouldn’t feel disappointed. Even though we will dump sap.

This is another new for a season: sap running, but low Brix. The sugar likely moved during the February runs. Last season, it was deep frost that delayed the season until March 28. Climate change is likely at the root of both events.

Into the woods by 4:45 AM to cook. Three batches into the milk can. Back to the farmhouse by 10:30 AM.

Checked the buckets at Noon. Nice sap and dripping well. But then checked the sap with the hydrometer: all around 1 Brix. Tasted the sap. Difficult to detect any sweetness.

The day cooking
5:05 AM R/O start
6:00 AM concentrate
6:20 AM batch
6:30 AM -5 PSI
7:15 AM R/O done
7:15 AM 6.5″
8:00 AM 5.25″
8:30 AM batch
9:00 AM 2.5″
9:50 AM batch
10:00 AM .25″
10:15 AM done

Next, we get into cleanup mode.

Low Brix May End The Season

Into the woods by 7:30 AM to get a milk can on the finishing pan. Bottled 8 gallons. Done by 10:30 AM.

24 overnight. Sunny and 50 today. Trees dripped. There was already sap in the buckets from the other day. We collect that day at 4:00 PM but the trees continued to drip into the night. It warmed quickly so the trees added sap to the buckets.

Into the woods by 2:30 PM to collect. Picked up190 gallons.

But the sap is 1.25 Brix. That’s a 69:1 ratio. With the R/O we can cook it, but it’s reaching the point were it’s not feasible. The weather pattern looks favorable for sap but with low Brix the season may end. We already have an above average crop so ending wouldn’t be bad. February weather was also favorable for sap and sap was moving in the trees. It’s likely the sugar moved in those runs. So even through there are favorable freeze/thaw cycles, there isn’t much sugar left and it’s mostly water moving now.

Back to the farmhouse by 5:00 PM.

6 Brix Feels Okay

Into the woods by 8:00 AM to cook. Couldn’t get sustained boils so took about an hour longer to finish. Expected to finish by Noon. Finished by 1:00 PM. We may have allowed our self to feel we didn’t have much to cook, so didn’t fire hard enough. This shows up below in the section labeled “The day cooking” in the concentrate tank levels between 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM. We typically drop 3” per hour on the concentrate tank. We should have cooked 150 gallons in 4 hours including startup/shutdown.

6 Brix on the R/O. Tried for 7 Brix. But this sap was 1.5 Brix to start with, a 57:1 ratio. At 6 Brix the ratio is 14:1 so we are already removing 43 gallons of water before boiling. That realization makes 6 Brix feel okay.

Additional thoughts on the R/O wash tank temperature. We have a single 4” membrane. Lapierre didn’t know that when they said a 1 1/4” intake on the feed pump wouldn’t matter. Most of their customers have one or two 8” membranes, or even two 4” membranes. Multiple membranes provides more surface area for friction to heat water. A 1 1/4” intake on the feed pump may work without adjustment for those R/Os.

Maybe 2” of snow. Snow started at 5:00 AM. Didn’t snow hard however. Snowfall rate increased by 8:30 AM but diminished by 11:00 AM. Between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM we got the heaviest snowfall. Other areas got more snow. We were in between snow bands given the way the storm swirled. By 5:00 PM it started to clear. 24 forecast for tonight with 42 tomorrow.

The day cooking.
8:25 AM increased snowfall rate
8:45 AM R/O start
9:00 AM 4 PSI
9:30 AM concentrate
9:45 AM batch
10:00 AM R/O done
10:30 AM 4.75”
11:30 AM 3.5”
11:45 AM batch
12:00 PM 2.25”
12:30 PM 0.5”
12:50 PM done

Back to the farmhouse by 1:00 PM.

Before the Snow

24 overnight. Sunny and 42 today. Trees dripped a little. We collected. Pickup the sap before the snow. Forecast is somewhere between 3” and 10” although 6” seems most likely. It seems strange to think of a snow storm when we had such a nice day.

Into the woods by 4:30 AM. Done by 10:15 AM. Did a pH wash cycle on the membrane where we add a cleaning agent to bring water in the wash tank to pH 10, slightly Alkaline (Base.)

pH Scale
pH Scale.

The day cooking.
5:30 AM R/O start
6:00 AM cooking with concentrate
6:55 AM batch
7:00 AM 0 PSI
7:40 AM R/O done
8:00 AM 4.75” concentrate
9:00 AM 2.5”
9:15 AM start pH wash on R/O
10:00 AM batch
10:15 AM done
3:30 PM R/O pH wash done
Back to the farmhouse by 10:30 AM.

Decided to collect. Pickup the sap before the snow. Got 150 gallons. We are now over 100% of a crop.

Back to the farmhouse by 5:30 PM.

Workable Solution to R/O Wash Cycle Temperature

Using the tank heater to supplement the pump during the wash cycle worked. We set the thermostat to 108 and left the heater on during the entire wash cycle. With the base temperature at 108, the pump only needed to raise the temperature 5 degrees by cycling water through the membrane. Friction from the water passing through the membrane raises the temperature. We started the wash cycle at Noon. Checked it at 6:45 PM. Temperature was 112.9. It needs to reach 113. Checked again at 7:50 PM. The pump was off. The wash cycle completed successfully. Took about 7 hours which is consistent with past use. Using the tank heater should be workable solution.

Into the woods at 2:45 PM to wash tanks and prepare to collect. Pickup 175 gallons, but the sugar is still down: 1.5 Brix.

35 overnight. Cloudy this morning then becoming sunny with high of 42. Expect lows in mid 20s tonight with highs in the low 40s and sunny tomorrow. Hoping for a sap run. But Friday night into Saturday we get snow: 2”-4” forecast.

Back to the farmhouse by 5:00 PM.

Sweet Evaporator

Into the woods by 4:30 AM to cook. R/O and evaporator going by 5:30 AM. The evaporator was sweet. Took off six batches. The first batch was at 6:00 AM. R/O finished by 8:55 AM. Went to 6 Brix. Routine day cooking.

36 overnight but there was ice in places. The ground is still cold. Up to 45, but cloudy and light fog all day.

Had a conference call with other producers across the US and Canada. A lot of golden syrup being made. Had reports that 40% and even 50% of their crop was golden. Our golden wasn’t unique to us, but it’s still special for us.

The day cooking.
5:30 AM R/O start
6:00 AM batch
7:20 AM batch
8:25 AM batch
8:55 AM R/O finished
9:00 AM 6.75” of concentrate
9:40 AM batch
10:00 AM 5.25”
10:20 AM batch
11:00 AM 2.75”
12:15 PM batch
12:30 PM done

Wash cycle running now. Using the wash tank heater we brought the water to 108 and kept the heater on. We’ll see if that helps.

Back to the farmhouse by 12:45 PM.

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