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Early Start to Sugaring

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. .


3/21 update. Winter has finally retuned and no sap has run since 3/15 and we don't expect much until it warms up again by the end of March. Hopfully most of the tap holes will not have dried up by the time it starts running again. To date we have collected 73,245 gallons of sap which made 1,652 gallons of syrup - a ratio of 44 to 1 this year. Last year the sap to syrup ratio was 38 to 1. Our vaccum is running at 25" so our system has minimal leaks. We did not tap the homewoods this year (1000 taps) - main reason is the delay in having electricity run to our sap collection shed. Last year we made 100 trips using a tractor with a 150 gallon tank to remove sap from the woods to the truck tank. We have installed a pump out line but need electricity to run a well pump to eliminate this step. New 1" mainlines will also be run to optimize sap collection with a new vacuum pump.


3/26 update. No Sap running today and we don't expect any till the end of March. Hopefully the tap holes haven't dried up. A large long lasting storm system had 10+ inches of snow 3/24 , inches of rain 3/25 and more snow 3/26. There will be plenty of moisture now since the last precipitation was 2/14. Fire bans were in place until the storm came 3/24.


4/8 update. The trees did not run after March 13th even though the weather conditions were right so it was time to wrap up the season. Jim and Dave picked up and cleaned the three 1500 gallon tanks at Patnode Lane on 4/5. On 4/6 Dave, Dylan, Brad, Kevin, Kari Jean, Liz. & Kari Ann plus Greer pulled the taps and removied the spouts from the drop lines. It took 8 hours for the crew to remove 4500+ spouts. On 4/7 Jim and Kari Ann unhooked the vacuum lines from the sap wagon and pulled it back to their farm for cleaning and storage. It started raining 4/7 evening so the trees will have moisture to come out of dormancy and create sugar for collecting sap next spring.

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