||Summer 2014 Update
changing colors of leaves reminds us that late August is here. We
are seeing brilliant colors in leaves from swamp maples and even a few
sugar maples in decline. Where has the summer gone? We
mentioned in our last update the production season cleanup. That
is done, the firewood for next season is cut, and we are looking
forward to working in the woods to enhance and expand our tap lines
This web update is a bit overdue because of some minor but necessary
surgery. The time on restricted activity has enabled me to read
an interesting book, The Sugarmaker’s Companion,
by Michael Farrell, author and manager of Cornell University’s Sugar
Maple Research and Extension Field Service Station at Uihlein Forest in
Lake Placid, New York. It's great to see someone with the
enthusiasm for maple that author Farrell has! I found Farrell’s
advice on tubing installation interesting and helpful. It was
also interesting to read his thoughts about equipment and techniques,
some of which I have used at Mapletree Farm for years. The
chapter on climate change explained the need to adapt our sugarbush
management practices and sap collection methods in order to maintain
the production that we have enjoyed in past seasons. The timing
of sap flow and yields will be different as the wild fluctuations of
weather continue. Gone are the predictable and traditional
seasons of freezing nights and warm days in March. Instead
we are experiencing unfavorable weather patterns with days of
summer-like temperatures. We may not be able to count on that
normal freeze-thaw cycle for great sap flows. Mike Farrell offers
some good advice in his book to aspiring sugarmakers and seasoned pros
New Hampshire is moving forward to adopt the new maple syrup grading
standards proposed by the International Maple Syrup Institute
(IMSI). We have always used grade standards set forth by the US
Department of Agriculture. The previous grade standard used in
Canada has differed significantly from that used in the United
States. Maple syrup is now a global commodity. Those
grading differences between the United States and Canada have created
confusion for consumers for some time. The new IMSI grades will
standardize grading internationally. We know that color is an
indicator of flavor intensity. We can determine and grade syrup
color by light transmittance. Flavor is more subjective.
The IMSI set out to eliminate the confusion of two grades A and
B. The darkest, Grade B, is often selected by connoisseurs of
maple syrup for its strong and robust maple flavor. It is not
inferior to Grade A syrup and meets the same density and clarity
requirements. Grade B is just darker and more flavorful.
Under the new standard descriptors, which were developed after years of
taste testing by hundreds of participants, all syrup for sale to
consumers will be called Grade A. Processing Grade, which refers
to syrup of any color with off-flavor, will not be available to
consumers. Light transmittance will be used to differentiate
between each grade descriptor. The lightest grade will be called
Grade A Golden Delicate Taste. This was formerly Grade A Light
Amber. The next grade will be called Grade A Amber Rich
Taste. This was mostly Grade A Medium Amber or a light Dark
Amber. The next grade will be Grade A Dark Robust Taste that used
to be a Dark Grade A Medium Amber or mostly Grade A Dark Amber.
The last grade will be Grade A Very Dark Strong Taste that formerly was
Grade B and sometimes a light and nice flavored Commercial Grade.
So far we have only discussed color and taste sensation. There is
another important part of taste and that is density. The new
minimum density will be 66% Brix (Brix is a common density
standard). New Hampshire has always used 66.9% Brix as its
density requirement. You will definitely sense by taste the lower
density; 0.9% less density will taste much weaker and thinner. We
will continue to use 66.9% as the density of our syrup even though we
could produce and sell more of the thinner syrup. Good flavor is
more important to us. We like maple syrup that stays on our
pancakes! Don’t hesitate to call or email us should you have
questions about the new Grade Standard.
A lot has been published recently on the health benefits of maple
syrup. Unlike artificial sweeteners, which have virtually no
health benefits, pure maple syrup is 100 % natural and unrefined thus
retaining the nutritional value of the sap from the maple tree.
The sap to syrup concentration allows minerals to accumulate in a
healthful composition. Key minerals include calcium, manganese,
potassium, and zinc. A tablespoon of pure maple syrup contains 52
calories, 13 g of carbs, and virtually zero fat. Other natural or
artificial sweeteners cannot compare!
Tree sap has been considered nature’s energy drink for centuries.
Visitors to Mapletree Farm often taste maple sap from trees near the
sugarhouse. Surprisingly, birch sap has a much greater following
than maple sap throughout the world. The tradition of drinking
birch sap in Korea dates back more than 1000 years. Acer mono is
the maple tree tapped in Korea during March and April. Maple sap
is sold there for as much as $10 per gallon while birch sap brings
slightly less at $8 per gallon. These are interesting prices for
raw sap when compared to maple syrup prices in the United States.
Fall foliage season is close at hand. As written earlier we have
seen brightly colored leaves in our travels. Fall is a wonderful
time of year in New Hampshire. The weather is delightful, those
pesky black flies and mosquitoes are gone, and the colors are
spectacular. This is the time of year that I walk our orchards
and check on tree condition. Early color changes on an individual
tree give an indication of declining tree health, as does early leaf
drop. I make note of such trees and adjust tapping next
season. So what happens when leaves change color? During
the summer, the leaves are the food production source for the
tree. Chlorophyll gives leaves their basic color.
Carotenoids produce the yellow, orange, and brown colors.
Anthocyanins give us those brilliant red colors. As days grow
shorter and nights grow longer and cooler, biochemical processes in the
leaf begins the color change. It will vary from tree to tree,
species to species, and from season to season. The amount of
moisture in the soil will affect fall colors. A late spring or a
severe summer drought may delay the onset of fall colors. The
single most predictable factor in leaf color change is daylight.
The shortening of daylight hours and lengthening of night signals the
tree to prepare for dormancy. Chlorophyll production slows and
the tree’s leaves turn color. Heavy frost or early snow will nip
the leaves and bring a halt to the fall foliage season.
Sugar maples usually have red to orange foliage while red maples
typically produce yellowish and sometimes scarlet red colors. We
always look forward to enjoying the variety of colors in our maple
orchards. Please visit us and see for yourself. A foliage
trip in New Hampshire is one to remember.
Please plan ahead for our 40th Anniversary Open House on Maple Weekend
in March 2015. The celebration will either be March 21st &
22nd or 28th & 29th. Watch for confirmation of the date on
this Web Site. We appreciate your interest in Mapletree Farm.
to Mapletree Farm. We have been producing
NH-made maple products for over 30 years from our sugarhouse in East
Concord, New Hampshire. Making maple
syrup is a craft
requiring skill, knowledge and an eye for perfection.
practices passed down through the generations with the latest
technology available allows us to make exceptional maple products, with
a difference that you can taste.
Maple makes a great
gift. We ship our products all over the world, and will be
to work with you on your order whether you are interested in a
gift for yourself, a loved one, or for corporate promotions.
hope you come by and visit us during sugaring season to see our
operation and our maple products. You can also
our products page to see the variety of authentic maple products
Meg and Dean Wilber
Next year's Open House will be in March, 2015.
Please check back later in the year for a confirmation of the date.
We Hope To See You There!
Visit Concord's best-kept maple secret! You'll be able to:
- Get free samples
of syrup, coated nuts, sugar on snow, and now maple cotton candy
the sugar house in operation
- Learn how syrup
- Watch the sap
flow through hundreds of feet of tubing
a self-guided walking tour of the orchard and woodland
up on maple products
for the whole family!