COVID or no, the sap did flow! Yes, Mother Nature said, “to hell with the Pandemic and let the sap flow freely.” Was it a great year? No, however, we made a fair amount of syrup in March, we set some new records, but unfortunately, we did not make as much syrup as we should have. Mother Nature ruled. Warm temperatures prevailed.
The mild temperatures and low snow depth in January allowed us to prepare early and so we did. We ran another 20,000 feet of new 3/16” lateral lines and did completely away with the larger 5/16” lines. Our tubing count in length is now over 9.5 miles. Our total tap count is now at 1,500, the most ever. By March 1st, we were all tapped out, the tanks were set, and we were ready to go. Our first boil was on March 9th and the last on March 31st. In between we set some records, which was nice except that our production was roughly 2/3rds what it should have been. We did collect 2,000 gallons of sap in a day. Our previous best was 1,400. We had the most taps ever, since starting 46 years ago with 110. We made the most syrup ever (42.25 gallons) in one day and in less than four hours. Previously 34 gallons in eight hours was our record boil. The evaporator and reverse osmosis unit are perfectly matched. Had the weather not warmed so quickly we might have made another 50-75 gallons of syrup.
COVID canceled our Annual Open House and Maple Weekend in 2020. We missed seeing everyone. This year we had two socially-distanced Maple Weekends with limited reservations. Again, we missed seeing so many of our regular visitors. Some of you visited when you noticed steam or my truck in the sugarhouse driveway. We appreciated that. You are welcome to visit anytime someone is here.
So What’s Sappening now at Mapletree Farm? The evaporator and sap storage tanks are sparkling clean, the sap lines have been washed, and we have plenty of this year’s crop of maple syrup for sale here at the sugarhouse. Stop by to replenish your supply or order on-line if you live outside of the Concord area. We routinely ship across the country (and sometimes internationally) so everyone can enjoy our maple products wherever they are.
In addition to clean-up, and packaging this year’s syrup, we are also cutting the firewood necessary to fuel the evaporator. This task will consume much of our spare time between now and Fall. Mapletree Farm was established as a tree farm 45 years ago. We seldom cut maples or marketable logs for firewood. Storm-damaged hardwoods, dead or dying trees, and cull trees removed so healthy maples can grow make up our firewood supply. There is an ample amount and we will never run out. Our efficient equipment allows us to make lots of maple syrup while using very little firewood. Years ago we used four times the firewood to make maple syrup. Old photos of the firewood piles will attest to that fact.
So what is the Old Man of Mapletree Farm planning for sugarhouse improvements? He is always thinking about maple and right now he considering a new, more efficient canning and packaging system. During the production season in March he is too busy to fill as many containers of maple syrup as is necessary to meet annual sales. Syrup is hot packed into stainless steel drums and repackaged as needed throughout the year. The Old Man spends many hours canning or packaging maple syrup. A multi-head canning unit would be great! The ability to heat 30 gallons of syrup at one time would be wonderful. We shall see.
There is a magnificent view out the sugarhouse window of the maple orchard. Everyone often thinks of the wonderful fall foliage colors as spectacular. That’s true, but each spring Mother Nature also provides us with her own ombre effect of spectacular foliage in hues of green. The medium greens of developing maple leaves, the lighter greens of developing oak and birch leaves contrast with the darker greens of the pines and hemlock trees. The wonders of nature!