Patience. Without patience the season would have been a bust. The weather started out very favorable the first days of March. The last week of February had the same weather pattern and we would have benefited from tapping about five to seven days earlier. But March 9th the weather changed: first foggy and warm with no freezing night, then sunny and warm with no freezing nights. It wasn’t until March 20th that the weather pattern changed back to freezing nights. That saved us.
We knew this was an El Nino year which creates warmer winters in the Mid-West. Still, we wonder what the longer term impacts of climate change will have on maple syrup production. We need that alternating freezing/thawing cycle for sap runs.
57 ½ gallons is 96% of an average season. So pretty much an average season. From our contacts with other producers we were fortunate. Producers in Vermont are reporting 1/3 of a crop. Even other Wisc producers are reporting poor crops. All of Wisc had the warm weather pattern.
We collected 2440 gallons of sap. We made 57 ½ gallons of syrup. That works out to 42 to 1 for the ratio of sap to syrup. And an average of 2.02 Brix for the sap.
We started tapping March 2 and were completed by March 3. We put out 423 taps. We pulled taps on March 30th so we had 29 days of potential sap.
There is a question about next season. Our hope is to do some upgrades: replace the concrete floor in the syrup building. Maybe get a new evaporator. But some events, that we don’t control, need to work themselves out. We will make syrup next year, but maybe not the way we hope.
The annual meeting of the North American Maple Syrup Council is in London, Ontario in October. We plan to attend again. And we will be back here in late February or early March 2011.