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Thread: Is the sap running?

  1. #1

    Is the sap running?

    Just curious if anyone on here collects and boils maple syrup?

    I don't and have not really even considered it, though I certainly have the Maple trees and the land. Pretty much it all boils down to the cost of the evaporator set-up. Pretty pricey for a months worth of profit.

    Still I like to watch the daily sap reports, or tree pee as I like to humorously call it. This years seems to be a pretty good year as its been cold at night (10-15 degrees) and warm (30-35 degrees) during the day.

    Maine ranks as 7th in the country for maple syrup production, so its pretty low on the list, but its still good stuff. You have never had a lollipop as good as a maple syrup lollipop , and maple syrup candy, spread out nice and hot on the snow and then allowed to instantly harden, is delicious too. Of course starting the day with good old flapjacks and pure maple syrup is a nice way to start out the day too.

    Here is a picture of some tree pee buckets at the Governors mansion here in Maine. They say you know you live in Maine when they even tap the maple trees at the Maine State Capital!!

    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    London, Ontario
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    Nahhh, you know it's "just for show" if they're using buckets.

    Every sugar-shack that I've visited here in Southern Ontario has vacuum lines out to all the trees. The buckets are only along the trail for the tourists to see.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The bigger operations don't even use an evaporator (heat/boiling), they use a big reverse osmosis(?) filter and high pressure to reduce it down to syrup.

    I know, the romance is gone...

  3. #3
    No not the romance, the lines are gone!!

    We have both types of operations here...the pail haulers and the vacuum lines.The vacuum lines do get more per tree as they actually create a vacuum and suck it out of a tree, but this year the sap liners have had a hard winter.

    Their lines are literally under the snow because of the record amounts of snow we got this winter. The deer and moose treading through the snow snagged up on the lines and have ripped plenty down from what I understand, I guess making the whole process one big mess. One guy I talked to, said he had to dig down into the snow to find the taps he set last year.

    There is no doubt its a lot of work, but at 45 bucks a gallon, I guess they do alright money wise. I still don't think its going to be anything I do.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Inside the Beltway
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    2,666
    "I still don't think its going to be anything I do."

    Travis,

    Good idea. Startup costs are high, and the industry's going into decline. Last summer, my sister-in-law wouldn't let me cut down a maple for turning. I said "they're everywhere!" She said "Don't you know about maple decline?"

    I didn't. Warming? Acid rain? Who knows... but fall foliage is less brilliant there, and sap just ain't running like it used to. Lots of arguments about it, but the locals in vermont, at least, are convinced, and concerned.


    "http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE1D9113EF932A3575260&sec=&sp on=&pagewanted=all"


    Thanks,

    Bill
    Last edited by Bill Lantry; 03-24-2008 at 01:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Bill your link did not work so I could not read the article so I am not really sure what Maple Decline really meant.

    I do know that Maple Products are considered an Agricultural Product though and that changes things quite a bit. Just like the lobsterman, the dairy farmers and everyone else, people tend to whine about crops and whatnot. None of it is easy work for sure, but there are ups and downs.

    Typically what generates a good Maple Syrup Harvest is cold nights and warm days and we have got a pretty good supply of that recently. As I type this its 9 outside, but today it will warm all the way up to 30, so the sap out to be really running. I am not sure what effect the deep snow will have, but it might lower the overall maple harvest this year some.

    Probably in another 100 years we will definitively know the answer to why everything goes in cycles, but I know its all weather related. I've been a snowmobiler for years and years and can tell you the good years and bad years. Just this fall people were saying how foolish it is to buy a snowmobile because of global warming these days. After getting 182 inches of snow this year...the most we have had since 1939, I would say having a snowmobile in Maine is a good recreation to be in.

    I have no illusions about getting into Maple Syrup, as you said the startup costs are huge, and the stand of maple trees I have is pretty far from the house. But when it comes to all the hype and whining about Maple Decline, I don't give it much thought. For what its worth, last year was one of the most spectacular fall foliage seasons we have ever had. A combination of plenty of summer rain, cold nights and lack of wind.

    It all runs in cycles my friend.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    Travis, couldn't you just collect and sell to a processor? That's what many beekeepers do with their honey.
    Maine 7th producer? Interesting, I had always associated Maine with maple syrup and figured it to be #1.
    IMHO, the ONLY pancake syrup is maple. But the pure stuff is expensive.

  7. #7
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    Inside the Beltway
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    Travis,

    Sorry about the link... can't get it to work at all. Here's another one from last year: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/03/us/03maple.html

    Same stuff, different day...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Golden BC Canada
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    64

    MM good

    Hey Travis
    One would think that a tree under vacuum, would have a tough time leafing out brilliantly? Just think, if you sucked the blood out of a person, he loses alot of color and more...
    We don't have maples out here except for a variety called douglas maple.

    I have heard the first nations tapped birch trees for syrup.
    Cheers

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
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    12
    I toured some sugar shacks a few years back when I chaperoned a grade 7 field trip to Quebec. I spoke with some of the owners and was amazed how little syrup an acre of trees yielded. Seemed like an awfully tough way to make money.

    Greg

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Irv Graham View Post
    Hey Travis
    One would think that a tree under vacuum, would have a tough time leafing out brilliantly? Just think, if you sucked the blood out of a person, he loses alot of color and more...
    We don't have maples out here except for a variety called douglas maple.

    I have heard the first nations tapped birch trees for syrup.
    Cheers
    Nay, you are only getting a very small portion of the sap running up the tree. You can only get so many taps per diameter of the tree. Big Rock maples say four feet in diameter, might only get 4-5 taps. A foot diameter tree, maybe one.

    What actually dictates how much sap you get, is how big the crown is. Most maple tree producers actually thin out the other trees around the tap tree by quite a bit. Like a tree growing in a field, a tree that has full light tends to grow branches. A full crown is what produces the most sap. It makes for lousy logs, but then again Rock Maple that has been tapped makes for lousy lumber anyway (black streaks in the wood).

    As for the birch tree, oh yeah, towards the end of the season you can tap a birch. We used to tap a single Yellow Birch come the end of April or May. Yellow Birch at this time literally fills a pail in no time...like in an hour or two. It has this nice winter green taste and does not have to be boiled off. You can drink it right out of the tree. Just be careful, too much of either Maple or Yellow Birch sap can give you the runs.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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