Sunday, March 22, 2015

Maple Sap Harvesting

Our neighbors had good success last winter harvesting maple sap and converting that to syrup, so we all anticipated the products of this year's harvest. Even though the trees were tapped a week earlier than last year, the weather this year has not been as ideal for producing lots of sap.

The sap flows best when nighttime temperatures are well below freezing, and daytime temps are well above freezing, preferably with some sunshine thrown in. Prior to March 6, the temperatures tended to be too cold, but the forecast for that day and those following looked promising enough to put Philip and his sidekick Josh into action. I didn't see Josh helping with the tapping last year, so I presume he was in training when they stopped by our house this year. In this shot it appears I distracted Josh from his responsibilities.

With all three of our trees tapped, the guys were ready to move on to the next target.

Unfortunately, the weather has tended to be too warm most of the nights over the last two weeks, so the sap hasn't been flowing as well as it did last year. This picture shows the first 24 hours of production on one of our trees that had two taps running into this container. The low temperature that first night was 29°F while the high the next day was 51°F. There appears to be a little less than a gallon in this jug since I think the container holds about 5 gallons when full.

After 48 hours the container appears to be over half full. The low hit 27°F the night before, and 51°F again during the day, so conditions were sufficient to keep a decent flow of sap moving.

We've had a few good days since, but more poor days than good ones so far. It appears that the sap production may be lower than last year's harvest, which means the syrup may be in shorter supply. Our neighbors have boiled down a couple of batches of sap in the last two weeks, producing about 9 gallons of syrup which is a far cry from last year's total.  Although the near term forecast doesn't look ideal, the maple syrup season may not be done yet!

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