2021 End of Summer Update

It is hard to believe Labor Day Weekend is upon us.  The summer at Mapletree Farm has flown by.  It seemed like it rained all summer, or at least most of it.  So what does that mean for our maple trees?  It is hard to say, but my educated guess is that there will be more and much sweeter sap in the spring of 2022.  Educated guess?  We experienced a severe drought during the summer of 2020.  The sap we collected this past spring contained very low sugar content, the lowest I can ever remember at the start of the production season.  We never got a “big sap run” either.  It took an average of 66 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  That is way more sap than previous averages.  The syrup throughout the season ran darker than normal.  It took more sap to make syrup and thus took more time to boil.   The longer the boil, the darker the syrup.  Every sugarmaker I know had the same experience.  Given the 2021 summer weather was about the opposite of  the 2020 summer weather, I am predicting that the spring sugaring season will be far different than this past sugaring season; hence my educated guess.

Our summertime projects have involved making lots of maple cream, making many bags of maple coated nuts, and keeping up with the syrup inventory. In addition, we have been cutting next season’s firewood and mowing the planted maple grove by the sugarhouse.  The maple grove looks fantastic now with lush grass and ferns.  For those of you who have never seen our planted sugarbush or maple orchard, there are photos on this website and social media (@mapletreefarmnh).

We have had numerous guests this summer as part of the Harvest Hosts Program.  The guests are overnight campers with self-contained recreational vehicles.  So far our guests have come from nearly 40 states across the USA.  I have talked to most of them and have given many tours of the sugarhouse.  It is great fun explaining the maple story.  So many have had no idea of what it takes to make maple syrup.  Yup, some even thought it came straight out of the tree! Others have thought the sap lines were part of an irrigation system.  It is nice to be able to correct the various misconceptions and to let guests sample our pure New Hampshire maple syrup.  Some claim they will never buy “store bought” again!  I tell them we ship.

Soon the leaves with turn their magical colors and the maple trees will  be brilliant.  Visit us if you want to see those colors and to stock up on maple holiday gifts.


Dean aka The Old Man of Mapletree Farm

2021 Maple Syrup Production Season Summary

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!

Pandemic – Not a Word in Mother Nature’s Dictionary

We have heard the P word incessantly over the past year; however, that word means nothing to Mother Nature.  Our maple trees are still in the woods, the sap will still flow, and we will be making a new crop of maple syrup very soon.  Politics, viruses, and even snowstorms will not stop the sap from flowing from our maple trees in February, March, and April.  The drought last summer may affect the amount of sap, but it will not stop the sap from flowing.  Mother Nature Rules. 

I am not taking the pandemic lightly.   At the sugarhouse we have taken additional precautions and sanitation measures as recommended by the CDC for the safety of our staff and customers.  The number of people impacted by this virus through job loss, illness, hospitalization, and death is most distressing to me.   In the 74 years that I have been around maple operations (including 46 seasons at Mapletree Farm), I have never experienced economic, weather, climate change, bugs and insects, or anything that has impacted the maple industry like Covid-19.  In March, our annual Maple Open House had to be cancelled, the number of visitors during our peak season dwindled to nearly none, and maple product sales slowed.  Like other businesses, we made adjustments – we introduced our popular Bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, increased our shipping services, relied more on social media and extended our hours to compensate.  Now we are gearing up for Mother Nature to provide us with a bountiful few weeks of maple sap flows.  Yes, we have already started to walk and clear our sap lines.  Summer, fall, and winter storms have caused numerous trees to blow down across those lines.  The rule for sap lines is: straight, tight, and downhill!  Once the 30 plus miles of sap lines are cleared and tight, we will start tapping.  We will be tapped out and waiting to make maple syrup sometime around February 20th.   Mother Nature does not wait, and we must be ready when prime weather conditions indicate good sap flows.  One thing is for sure – sap will flow soon, and we will be turning it into maple syrup and related products.  We appreciate your support and look forward to your next visit.       

All the best,