The only consistency with maple syrup season is that every year nature gives us something different. The 2004 maple syrup season at Maple Acres proved that again. Final production numbers: 2345 gallons of sap collected. 52 gallons (208 quarts) of finished maple syrup. Doing the math: it took about 45 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of finished syrup. That’s more than is considered “normal.” The “normal” figure is 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of finished syrup. When more sap is needed it means the sap is less sweet. Our tests during season showed about 2.2 Brix which is a little low. (Note for next year: in January we will have to spread more sugar around the tree roots to get sweeter sap. If only that were true. Nature does all the work and we have no control over it.)
In 2003 we made 75 gallons of maple syrup. 2003 was by all measures an outstanding season. Our production targets are 60 gallons of finished syrup from 400 taps, so at 52 gallons for 2004 we were a little short, about 13.5 % less. But we take what nature gives us. We are still happy with 52 gallons.
The season was marked by three major sap runs with nothing in between. That is unusual. We would normally expect to collect 100 gallons to 200 gallons of sap most days, with one major run toward the end of the season. 2004 gave us runs on March 10-11, March 19-20, and March 23-24 with almost nothing in between. We did most of the tapping on March 10. If we had tapped a few days earlier, we would have collected more from the first run and likely hit the production goals.
It was short season at only 18 days. Tapped on March 10. Pulled spouts on March 27. Most seasons are 25 days to 35 days.
Everything is pretty much cleaned up now and stored. At the end of a season, you are glad its over. Heavy lifting. Long nights. You get tired and vow this will be the last time. Summer comes and goes. In autumn its back to making fire wood. Then the annual North American Maple Syrup Producers meeting comes in October. You meet with other producers from across the maple belt — New England to the upper Mid-west — and swap stories and ideas. But January the buckets start calling you to be cleaned. You know you will be back at it because once you have caught the aroma of the sweet steam rising from the evaporator, you are hooked for life.
See us here on the web at http://www.mapleacres.com next year starting end of February or early March for reports on the 2005 season.