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Summer 2014 Update

The 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 fall. 

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 alike.

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.

 




Welcome to Mapletree Farm.    We have been producing quality 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.  Combining 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 happy to work with you on your order whether you are interested in a gift for yourself, a loved one, or for corporate promotions.

We hope you come by and visit us during sugaring season to see our operation and our maple products.   You can also check out our products page to see the variety of authentic maple products available.
 
Sincerely,
 
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
  • See the sugar house in operation
  • Learn how syrup is made!
  • Watch the sap flow through hundreds of feet of tubing
  • Take a self-guided walking tour of the orchard and woodland
  • Stock up on maple products
Fun for the whole family!

Click here for directions!