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

Category: 2005: Season 88 Page 1 of 4

Comments on Season 87

Our 87th maple season comes to a close. We started tapping on March 5 and did the last collecting on April 4. Starting pulling taps on April 6 and finished all bottling on April 9. This was a normal length season. The two week cold spell had us doubting just what kind of season it would be. But in the end we made 50 gallons of syrup. Our “normal” is 60 gallons, but anyone who makes a crop dependent on nature knows that “normal” is always changing. We only collected 1640 gallons of sap so our ratio of sap to syrup was 32.8 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup. This is good. If the sap had been less sweet we would have made less syrup. We are happy with what we have. We talked with one producer who put out 3000 taps but got only 100 gallons of syrup. That would be discouraging. The week before Easter was the best run of the season with sap every other day. Actually it was nice to have a day in between so we could get caught up.

The woods comes to life over the next month with spring flowers and leaves coming out. Its very pretty. In September we start to make firewood again. In October is the North American Maple Syrup Producers annual meeting. Its in Trios Rivers, Quebec this year. There are some very large producers in Quebec: 50,000 up to 100,000 taps. We want to see these operations.

We expect to be back here again next February or March for our 88th season. We hope you will join us here too.

Finishing up the Season

We completed most of the cleanup today. The main evaporator and all finishing and bottling pans are clean. All the buckets and covers are in from the woods. We finished boiling down all the sap. The last batch had a lot of sugar sand. What is sugar sand? Its like hard water. Hard water has a lot of minerals in it. Those minerals cause rust stains in sinks and tubs. Or lime build up around faucets. Sugar sand is mineral particles in the sap. Sugar clings to it and it settles to the bottom of the bottle or stays suspended in the syrup causing it to look cloudy. Sugar sand increases as the season goes along. We filtered the final batch of syrup three times through the filter press. During the first pass we had to change filters twice. During the second pass we had to change the filter once. And only on the final pass did we get all the syrup through. It was a lot more work, but the final result was worth it: crystal clear syrup. We still have to wash the sticky floors and do other clean up. And we have to total up the final production of syrup. In a few days that will be done and we will post our final thoughts for the 2005 season.

Cleaning Up

Collecting the buckets and covers from the woods. When we pulled the taps we just stacked them by the trees so we still had to pick them up. And we are cleaning out the evaporator. A lot of sugar sand. But its stainless steal and with a little elbow grease it gets clean. The remaining sap is on the gas pan for finishing. We hope to complete that today.

One Last Firing of the Evaporator

Started the evaporator for the last time this season. We just want to get a small boil to reduce down the sap remaining in the evaporator. Its a lot faster to boil on the evaporator than on the gas pans. There is more surface area on the evaporator so it evaporates faster. Once we get down to 15 or 20 gallons of sap then we can take it to the gas pans for finishing. All the taps are out now. Nothing is running from the tap holes. Still a lot of clean up to do. We re-bottled about 5 gallons because there was so much sugar sand in it. It was cloudy when held up to the light. So we poured it back and ran it through the filter press again. That fixed it and now it is nice and clear.

Pulling Taps

Started pulling the taps. This season is coming to a close. We still have to clean everything up and finish off the remaining sap in the evaporator. As we have boiled through the sap we collected on Monday it as produced a lot of sugar sand. That is alway a sure sign the season is ending.

No More Sap

We have collected 1640 gallons of sap for the season. There will not be more sap as we have started pulling the taps. We still have to finish boiling through all the sap in the evaporators. We should end up with 49-51 gallons of finished syrup. We will know for sure in a day to two.

Freezing Nights Bring Sap

As we hoped, the return to freezing nights and sunny days has rejuvenated the sap flow….well a little at least. We collected 240 gallons of sap on Monday. There may not be more as many of the trees are drying up. And the bugs are coming out. But 240 gallons of sap will be 6 or 7 more gallons of finished syrup. This should put us over 50 gallons of finished syrup when everything is done.

Trees Dripping Today

It froze Saturday evening and it was sunny today. The trees started dripping. We did not collect today, but will collect tomorrow. It is supposed to freeze tonight too so there may be even more sap tomorrow.

Nothing Happening

We are waiting to see what the weather will bring.

Thunder Over an Open Woods

Had a little bit of thunder and lightening on Wednesday evening. The old saying is that when we get thunder and lightening without the leaves being out, we can still expect a snow storm. April snows happen in Wisconsin. Talked with other maple producers in Wisconsin. Its been slow for them too. And a contact in Massachusetts says he too is at about 60% of his normal crop. Everyone is hoping that the forecast for a return to freezing nights will induce one last good run to bump up the crop numbers.

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