It was a busy week and weekend. Quinn and Jim pulled the 1000 taps in the home woods, Jim and Brent pulled out the pickup tank from the Home Woods and Jim Cleaned them all. Jim picked up the rest of the bag hangers and washed them all (450) in the dishwasher. On Friday Dave helped Jim put away the pickup tanks and bag hangars and then Dave pulled taps in the Harmon Woods for 6 hours. Brent & Brandon showed up about 3:30 so the 3 of us pulled about 2500 taps. After pulling taps Brent and Dave emptied and brushed out the Harmon Woods pickup tanks. Since the trees had turned we emptied out about 2000 gallons onto the ground - we wanted to get them empty since it was going to freeze hard Friday nite. On Saturday we picked up all 3 tanks, rolled up the 300 ft drain line and the 100 ft pickup line to the road. While Dave, Bruce and Jim pressure washed the tanks Kevin and Brent worked on the granary project. The cold snap continued - the high on Saturday was 34 and Friday was 35. This was the coldest end of season we could remember. We were hoping we’d get more sap but the frogs were croaking in the pond so we knew the season was over. We ended up with 1,279 gallons of maple syrup made from the 49,994 gallons of sap. The sugar content was about the same as last year. 2.24%. On the average we made 1 qt of syrup from each tap. There was hardly any Grade B dark syrup made this year.
Quinn finished up detapping the home woods this AM. He was very happy to be able to use Jim’s new $31 spile hammer. He had one tap he couldn’t reach so he had to get one of the small ladders to finish the job. Jim finished the bag removal from the Harmon Woods and cleaned up the home woods tanks. Tomorrow Dave and Brandon will start detapping the Harmon Woods. There are 3,600 taps to take out so we’ll see if we get it done. That would leave picking up the drain hoses and tanks on Saturday. The weather remains cloudy and cool. Normal hi is 51 and low is 30 but we have been in the 40’s and around 30 for lows. Light rain and snow has been happening every day this week.
Another cold front came through this afternoon. Snow, Sleet and rain came in the PM but Jim removed another 200 bags from the Harmon Woods. We had taken off 239 bags on Sunday. There’s about 35 left.
The 2016 Sugaring season is officially over after Jim received the call from Greg Pittman today. Once again it was proven that if the frogs are croaking in the Harmon Woods pond the sap season is done. They were croaking quite loud yesterday so it didn’t surprise me that the season is officially over. The sap will continue to run with the cold weather this week but the trees have turned so if the sap is processed it will have an off flavor. It was one of the first times that the season extended 3 months - late Feb, March and early April. Today Jim started unhooking the lines to the home woods tank and pulled some taps. I expect we’ll get everything done by this coming Saturday. Overall I would say this was an average year for sugar content 2.25 ( 1 basis point better than last year) and output (1200 gallons of syrup made with 47,000 gallons of sap).. Ratio of sap needed for one gallon of syrup was 39 to 1 this year.
After yesterdays return to February weather (high of 33 and 30-40mph winds) the weather warmed to 62 today after an overnite freeze. We were hoping for additional sap and we started getting it today. Hopefully this will be a good grade B and that the trees have not turned which would give the syrup a sharp bitter taste. Jim checked the home woods and there was 300 gallons in the tank at 12:30pm so we knew we had sap. After finishing up the floor on the granary project Jim, Dave, Brent, Kevin, Quinn and Mike headed to the harmon woods to pickup sap from the 457 bags. We picked up 400 gallons from the trees that were running yet and we removed about two thirds of the bags and spiles from the trees that were done giving us their sap. Their job was done for the year and we were thankful for their effort. We loaded up the spreader and Jim hauled the hangars/spiles back to his farm to start cleaning them in his dishwasher. At about 5 pm Jim was advised by Jason Pittman that he was picking up a load of sap from the Harmon Woods - should be about 2,000 gallons. It’s supposed to freeze again tonite so we should have a good run tomorrow also. As of today we have about 49,000 gallons of sap and 1300 gallons of syrup. Pittman has only made 50 gallons of B so far this year so the quality has been exceptional. We need more B since many of our customers like the strong maple taste.
More rain today and cloudy cool weather - high of 46. Hopefully the sap will run again when the cold temps return Friday and are expected to last up to 10 days. For now we are in a holding pattern until the weekend. The grass is turning green and the frogs started croaking in the Twin Cities last weekend. Maybe their country cousins will not wake up yet and the sap will continue to flow.
Today was Easter Sunday - about as early as it can get. Since there was no hard freeze last nite and it rained int he AM not much sap ran so we emptied up the tanks and picked up about 375 gallons from the sap bags. After this run we are now at about 45,000 gallons of sap and 1200 gallons of syrup. Picking up the sap was Bruce, Jim, Dave, Kevin, Brent and Quinn. The woods remains extremely muddy and we are looking forward to the polar vortex to arrive later this week.
It’s been 4 weeks since we tapped and the sap continues to run. Is it because we are using the new clear spiles or are the conditions in place that any type of spile could be used. We have now collected more sap than last year - about 43,000 gallons / 1139 gallons of maple syrup. There will be a warm stretch for the next few days before the polar vortex returns. If this happens and our tap holes remain fresh we should be getting close to our all time highs for sap and maple syrup. The sap remains crystal clear since it’s been too cool for the trees to bud out. The woods have plenty of moisture from the 7 inches of snow that fell this week. This is one of the wettest springs that we can remember. Usually a muddy trail in the woods means a good sap year. The conditions are in place for continued sap running. Even though it doesn’t freeze the trees continue to run - at a slower pace though.
The Trail Camera was setup today to monitor the level of the sap in the Harmon tanks. You can download an APP and control the camera to take a picture on demand via your smartphone. Mike found the camera and set it up with the help of Kevin and Brent. We no longer need to drive 15 miles to check the tanks. It takes infrared pictures at night if needed.
Kevin, Brent and Dave completed Kevins dream of having a wooden bench installed by the bag dump tanks in the Harmon Woods. While Brent and Dave found and cut a 6′ elm log (about 5 inches in diameter) Kevin dug a hole with a post hole digger. After Brent attached the joist board from the Granary to the elm posts we were able to enjoy eating out lunch - Venison sausage and Coors lite beer.
The NW Breezes came just in time. The sap was flowing really good over the weekend so the fear that the frogs would be croaking in the pond and the tap holes would all be dried up did not happen. We collected about 7,500 gallons of sap and the weather looks good for the sap to keep flowing now over the next 2 weeks. We now have about 30,000 gallons of sap so we are close to having an average year but there is a chance it could be an excellent year despite El Nino. There is still plenty of moisture in the ground and the trees are not budding out yet.
Happy St. Patricks Day. No sap has been collected this week since we are in a transition to winter again. About 2 inches of rain has fallen so there is plenty of moisture for the trees to use to draw up the sugar from their roots. There was also a lot of wind so there was some branches knocked down and a dead tree had fallen over one of our sap pickup trails in the Harmon Woods plus a panel had blown off the corn bin. Jim and Brent had to cut some trees up that had fallen in the Home Woods onto the black line and blocked the trail. There was about 25 gallons of sap in the tank so they scrubbed out the tank and let the sap run onto the ground. The cold front has come so there is hope for an extended maple sap run. the hi today was 42 after a low of 32 overnight and tonite the low should be 27 . Over the next week we are expecting hi’s in the 40’s so the tap holes should stay open for the foreseeable future. Tomorrow we are planning to pickup sap from the bags since Bruce reported that there was about a gallon of sap in each bag. I’m also delivering to Plum City 12 plywood boards and 10 2″ styrofoam sheets to be used for our granary project. We are redoing the granary so we can have an adult clubhouse for use during the sap season and deer hunting. Lexi wants it done by April 30th so she can have her all night prom party there.
In December and February we completed the rework of about 600 taps on the tube lines in the NE Corner of the Harmon Woods. This is part of our ongoing plan to rework all of our lines over the next few years. We are adding in new trees and switching to the new clear disposable 5/16″ health spiles attached to 36 inch drops. In 2014 we reworked the home woods 1000 taps and in 2015 about 500 taps on the south side of the Harmon woods. The longer drops allows us to have a larger area to drill tap holes, the clear spiles eliminate the growth of bacteria in the tap hole to keep sap flowing and the new lines eliminate air leaks and increases the sap flow by creating a natural vacuum system.
Welcome to your new blog! This is the first post. Edit
delete it, then start blogging!