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

Category: 2020: Season 103 Page 1 of 6

A diary of the 2020 maple syrup season at MapleAcres

Tree Days

Transplanted 20 trees in front of the syrup building. Ranged in height from 4′ to 6′ with one tree at 7’+. The ground was moist so got a good root ball. A good root ball causes less stress on the tree. Buds just started coming out. This was a good time to transplant.

Transplanted 14 trees on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. Used a small wagon. Allowed us to get close to the tree for moving the root ball. Milorganite in the hole. Move the tree. Stomp down. Add water.

Expect some mortality. In October 2012 transplanted four trees. Two survived. Hoping for better results this time. The area in front of the syrup building has no young saplings. With luck we might be able to tap in our lifetime. That would be 25-30 years away.

Its now up to mother nature.

Closing Season 103

Rinsed buckets out today. Sunny. 65. The buckets had a lot gunk: sticky sap, bugs, moths, twigs. We had time so rinsed out with the hose and a brush. Lined up all the buckets after rinsing so we could count them. 504.

Good yield per tap this season. Typically we get 1.3 to 1.4 pints/tap. We had 1.5 pints/tap this year.


Because of COVID-19 we are not traveling back to Virginia until late May. No date fixed yet. That gives extra time to do work around the woods and farmhouse.

Up next is transplanting trees. We’ve wanted to get young trees upfront around the building for a decade but were never here at good times for transplanting. Spring and Fall are good times to transplant. This year we have time and are here for the Spring. Also get to see wild flowers in the woods. That is always pretty.

We have a lot of syrup in inventory. Over 30 gallons left from last year and 5 gallons from 2018. With this season’s crop that gives us a lot to sell. However with COVID-19 we haven’t had many people coming to get syrup. May need to come up with creative ways to market and sell the syrup.

Thankful for the season. Overcame R/O pump problem and problems with cloudy syrup while bottling. Every season there are challenges. That’s part of agriculture. We did have good weather: no warm periods that hinder the sap run.

The annual maple syrup producers meeting is in La Crosse, WI this year the end of October.

We’ll be back next season.

R/O Back To Farmhouse

R/O is in. Washing hoses with bleach next. We learned that lesson a few seasons ago: didn’t wash with bleach and got mold. Had to replace all the hoses connected to the 3-ways panel.

All that remains is washing the floor. Then bring in various pieces of equipment like the filter press, hydrometers, etc. Disconnect the propane tank.

22 overnight. Sunny and 42 today.

Cold Overnight

19 overnight. Cloudy and cold today; only 35. Wonder how the spring plants that are sprouting will fare?

Cleanup is dragging on. Mostly because we have time. Work in the woods in morning then late afternoon.

Disconnected the hoses from the R/O this morning. Then opened all the drains. Should be ready to come in the farmhouse tomorrow.

Membranes In

Pumped the remaining permeate water through the R/O this morning. Washed the storage tanks while that ran. Brought in the membranes this afternoon. They are now in the storage canisters with SMBS solution. They will go for professional washing hopefully in May so we get them back earlier in the year. Next big task is to disassemble the R/O: disconnect and bleach rinse hoses, drain all tanks and pumps, bring the R/O to the farmhouse.

Alternated between cloudy, sunny and snow flurries today. Temperature mid-30s.


The hands usually take a beating during the season. Wet. Cold. Warm. Burns from hot sap or fire. Immersed in cleaning solution while cleaning pans. Stiffness in the finger joints. Broken finger nails. But not this season. Hands did well. The difference may have been a different pair of gloves. The gloves were rubber coated to make them water resistant. Nothing is water proof. And the rubber coating provided additional cushioning which may have helped too. The test will be next season to see if hands also stay healthy.

Snow overnight. Just enough to make the ground white. Windy. Cloudy most of the day but the sun made an appearance late afternoon.

Easter Sunday

No woods work. Cloudy. Rainy.

Wiped Away

Last season’s procedural error cleaning the evaporator wiped away today. Much of the nitre and scale came off while boiling the cleaning solution and water. The remainder wiped away easily today. Our pan is again the shiny stainless steel we take pride achieving both inside and the bottom exposed to fire. Lesson learned.

Into the woods at 7:30 AM to pickup the last buckets and covers. Done by 8:00 AM. Then started cleaning the evaporator. Syrup pan done by 10:00 AM. Flue pan done by 1:00 PM. Cleaned the bottling and finishing pans too. All pans are clean and stored upside down for next season.

The new MES membrane is in the storage tube. The old membrane is in a wash cycle. Expect it will need a second wash cycle.

25 overnight. Sunny most of the day with temperature in mid 50s. The pressure gauge is still on the tree. It registered -8 PSI. Trees are still moving sap. The leaves are not out yet so this makes sense.

Back to the farmhouse by 4:30 PM.

Stuck Utility Vehicle

Picked up buckets this morning. The utility vehicle has low clearance. Driving over mud and ruts it got stuck. Had to get the H to hook up a chain and pull out. Did two more bucket and cover pickups late this afternoon. Still one more pickup of buckets and covers.

Tomorrow is evaporator day. Clean all the pans and empty the ashes from the arch.

One membrane is cleaned. Swap out the membranes tomorrow to clean the second.

Predicting snow for Sunday night into Monday.

Bands of Sun and Snow Flurries

And some hail. Quite the variable day for weather. Started sunny and mid 30s. Turned cloudy and windy. Then hail around 11:30 AM followed by bands of snow flurries and sun. Snow made the ground white. The sun would melt it. Several iterations of that pattern this afternoon.

Got more buckets and covers in from the woods this morning. Also prepared the new membrane storage tube. Added a solution of baking soda and water to absorb a slight glue odor. The storage tube is PVC with caps glued on the ends.

Page 1 of 6

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Hide picture