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

Category: 2015: Season 98 Page 3 of 5

Nitre Today

Warm overnight.  Only down to 40.  This morning was cloudy until sunrise, then cleared.   But there was a cold North wind again.   Without a freezing night there was no sap today.


Into the woods by 7:45 AM.  Cleaned the syrup pan. Got water.  Washed the 225 gallon storage tank then pumped the collecting tank into the storage tank.  But 9:00 AM  boiling and running in sap into the evaporator.   The goal for the day was emptying the 225 gallon storage tank and bottling.


Got a milk can of syrup on the finishing pan by 10:30 AM.   When filtering it, we did not use enough filter aid so the syrup would not go through the filter.  We only have a hand pump on the filter press and we could hardly push  it down because the filter papers were clogged.  Back into the finishing pan and try again with more filter aid.   That worked.


Bottled 31 quarts.  First syrup of the season.


We did not accomplish the second goal.   Boiled well until about 5:00 PM.  Then we got a nitre build up on the syrup pan.   That spoils the boiling.  In 1 ½ to 2 hrs we could have been done.   But with the nitre it was pointless to continue boiling.  So we ended early.  Tomorrow we will clean the syrup pan again and finish boiling.  And we have to bottle.  We have two milk can of syrup.


Freezing tonight.  Tomorrow up to 38.  Hoping for sap.  The coming week’s forecast is for favorable weather patterns of freeze/thaw.


Based on the amount of sap collected so far, 1038 gallons of sap, we are about 37% of an average season’s crop.

225 Gallons. 10 Hours. Old School.

Into the woods by 7:45 AM.   Cleaned the syrup pan on the evaporator.   By 8:30 had the fire going.  By 9:00  running sap in.  Our goal was to empty the 225 gallons storage tank.   By 7:00 PM we were empty.  That was 10 hours of cooking.  A good day.  Made possible by dry wood.  Gathered many months before to have it handy at the door.  The wood is at least two years old so it nice and dry.  It burns hot and gives good boils.  Its nice to see rolling boils on the entire flu pan.


And old school because of trouble with the R/O.  Well mostly trouble with the membrane on the R/O.  We are waiting for the manufacturer to get back to us about what to do.   But we had to start cooking while waiting.


About 30 overnight.  Started cloudy. Sun appeared by 11:00 AM for few hours.  Temperature rose quickly to the 50s.  Trees did not run much.    Overnight about 30 again. Tomorrow a little cooler.


Tomorrow will be a busy day.   Water run in the morning.  Cook all day to empty the next 225 gallons of sap from Thursday.  Hope to finish that by 7:00 or 8:00 PM.   We must bottle.  We have 2 milk cans of syrup to finish and bottle.  And collect about 3:00 PM.

Trees Waking Up

Collected 458 gallons of sap today.  2.0 Brix.  Most of the  sap ran yesterday. It was cold today until mid-afternoon because of clouds.  But  the trees were dripping by 3:00 PM.   Down to 28 overnight and up to 43 during the day, but mostly cloudy all day.


Started collecting at 3:00 PM.  Had one tank full, 225 gallons,  by 4:00 PM.  Emptied the collecting tank into the storage tanks and headed out to finish the woods.   Done by 5:30 PM.


Tonight its forecast for a low of 27 or 28.  Tomorrow warmer and sunny:  maybe 50.    May be another sap run.  The frost is finally coming out in the woods.  We can tell by the mud and how much the tractor sinks into the trails.  The frost coming out should help the trees wake up.


Finished cooking the sap we collected on Monday by 2:00 PM.    Almost two milk cans full of syrup now.  We need to bottle.

Visit From Television Station Today

Fox 11 TV from Green Bay, WI was out to visit today.  They called last week about coming but with the warm weather there was nothing to see.   They arrived a little after 10:00 AM.  Spent about 45 minutes here taking video.  Of course that will get edited down to maybe a 3 minute story.  The also visited another sugar maker west of Manitowoc.  He is on vacuum tubing with a nice modern system.   We are old school.


Here is a link to the story.


Down to 23 overnight.  Up to 43 during the day.   The sap did run.  Likely will collect tomorrow.


Out in the woods by 8:00 AM to cook.  All kinds of small problems today.  The burners on the finishing pan would not start so I had to clean the syrup pan on the bottling burner.  One good note: just about no nitre so far.


Got the leak fixed on the R/O.  The O rings needed adjusting and more food grade grease.   Discovered one more leak on the fitting go into the per-filter.  Fixed that then started a wash cycle.  That takes almost 7 hours.   The R/O has to heat the water as it passes through and that takes time.  At the end of the cycle the value on the wash tank would not close.  Its PVC and did not seem to like the heated water from the R/O.  Finally got that closed.    Hopefully we are ready to actually try using the R/O on the next sap run.

Cold North Wind

Down to 30 overnight.  Up to 41 during the day.  But we had a cold North wind most of the day.  The wind chill must have been in the 20s.


Into the woods to cook.  Actually worked on the R/O first.  Trying hard to get it into production.  Close now.  We have water moving through it, but it has a leak at the top of the membrane vessel.  Most likely a missing seal of some type.  We have a call in to find out.


So we didn’t start cooking until 2:00 PM.  We have to push hard tomorrow.


Down the 20s tonight with 40s tomorrow.

No Robins Yet; Sap Today

It was 32/33 overnight but warmed quickly to 63.  Started partly sunny, but by late afternoon was overcast.    We headed out by 2:00 PM to collect the sap run from yesterday.  The spouts were still wet today, but it was not cold enough last night to get a sap run today.  We picked up 320 gallons of sap.  2.0 Brix.  We were hoping for sweater sap.  But still the biggest collection of this season so far.


This evening the wind switched to the North and the temperature dropped.   We might finally be getting that change in the weather pattern.  This week the forecast looks promising for sap runs.


The frost is starting to come out in the woods now.  The ground is soft and muddy.  But with little snow it won’t get too muddy.


No Robins yet.   Saw some Cardinals, but Robins have not returned yet.  With the warm weather and no snow cover we expected to see Robins sooner.

Cold Last Night

Down to 23 last night.  We needed that.  Warmed to 50, but became cloudy and windy.    Checked the woods around 1:30 PM.  The trees were running.  Good sign.  We will likely collect tomorrow.


Visited a local sugar maker this afternoon.    He taps about 900 on buckets.  Uses mules to go through the woods collecting.   He has not collected any sap yet.


Forecast for the coming week is for a return to more normal weather:  20s and 40s.

Cooked Today

Did not freeze overnight.  Up to 53 today.  Sunny, but windy.  Into the woods by 10:00 AM to cook the sap from yesterday.  Finished that by 4:30 PM.  Two more batches of syrup in the milk can.


Another local maple syrup producer stopped by.  He too is waiting for better weather.  He said his sap was only 1.5 or 1.6 Brix.  We at least had 2.0 Brix.  Typically very early sap is low sugar.  During the main season it rises to 2.0 to 4.0 Brix.  Then drops off as the season ends.    So maybe we are still in very early season sap.   Wish we know more about what happens inside the tree.


Tomorrow is warm again.  By Tuesday its forecast to change to more normal patterns.


An observation: once the snow is gone 40 degrees feels cold.  While the snow is on the ground 40 degrees feels warm.

A Lot Of Walking For A Little Sap

Only up to 45 today instead of 60s as forecast.  Froze last night.  But still no sap run.  We need a good freeze/thaw cycle of 20s at night and 30s/40s during the day.  We did go through the woods to collect the sap that was in the buckets.   If we don’t collect the sap with the warm weather it can spoil.  Collected 110 gallons.  2.0 Brix.  Its a lot of walking to get so little sap.   But with no snow its easy to walk through the woods.   Its also frustrating to see some dry taps.    But the ground in the woods still feels frozen.   If our weather pattern gets back to normal we will have sap runs.   The sap always moves in the trees because its needed as food for the leaves to come out.


Frequently at the beginning of the season we fight ice.  We would welcome ice this season because sap has to flow for ice to form.


New spark plugs in the tractor made a huge difference.  Its running very smooth now.  No more missing.   It starts right away and fires on all cylinders.

Cold Wind Today

More normal today.  Up to 38.  Froze overnight.  There was ice so must been 29 or 30.  But the sap did not run much.  It was sunny, but there was cold south wind.   The snow is mostly gone.   We looked back at our records.  In 2010 we had a similar warm spell during the season.  It ran from March 9 to March 20.  But before it started we had already collected 900 gallons of sap.  This season we have almost nothing.  Tomorrow is forecast for the 60s.


Thought about collecting today.  Checked the buckets around 12:30.   The spouts are trying to drip, but not much activity.   Maybe a pint in each bucket.  Maybe we collect tomorrow.


The tractor was running rough yesterday,.  Seemed to be missing on a cylinder.  Looked at the spark plugs today.  They need replacing.  A screw cap on one the plugs fell off.  Trying to organize the spark plugs for tomorrow.

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