We started tapping trees January 31st. Our previous earliest start since 1997 was February 25 in 2017. Temperature was a record high of 53 degrees and there was no snow on the ground which made it the easiest tapping ever. There is about 4" of frost in the ground so the surface started to get slippery as the ground thawed. Luckily most of the Harmon woods (about 4,500 taps) the slope is minimal. All tap holes were weeping sap no matter what side of the tree was tapped. About 1/3 of the tapping was completed and we should finish by Saturday. We ended up with 1200 gallons of sap by the next morning which should make about 30 gallons of syrup. We use battery powered drills with tapping bits. Jordan had sharpened the bits which made for easier and better tapping. Our tapping crew on the 31st was Dave, Greg, Nancy, Jordan and Vinny. The vacuum wagon and the three 1500 gallon storage tanks were setup on January 30th by Dave, Greg and Jim. The above normal temps are more typical for mid March so it made for a quick start to the season.
As of February 8th we have collected about 14,000 gallons of maple sap. Sugar content is about 2.0% or 350 gallons of maple syrup. Temperature records in the low fifties were set the last 3 days before a large storm system with rain and wind minimized the sap flow. The weather looks good for sap flow starting Sunday through Thursdays before it cools off again. Jim and Dave installed a new moisture trap from Pittmans Maple Farms to protect the new vacuum that was installed late last season. A new valve was installed on the 1.5" sap line before the exchanger so we can control the sap flow when we start the vacuum. If too much sap comes in at once the safety valves will shut down the system.
After the large 8000 gallon valentine sap run during a 3 inch snowfall we have 25,000 gallons of sap collected which made 600 gallons of maple syrup. The sugar content is down this year so the ratio is 42 to 1. Another run is starting February 19th and the weather looks good for the rest of February after 4 days of below freezing temperatures. .