February 22nd-March 3rd

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A mess of green tubing:  Lateral lines at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center lead to experimental chambers do not follow a typical tubing layout. 

Syrup production reached all parts of the state over the past week.  In general, producers who either by necessity (large operations) or choice (desire to catch early runs) were tapped and have reported a good season so far.  Some operations reported being a little behind during the prolonged period of unseasonably warm weather.  Some reports of mild to strong metabolism off-flavor have been received.  There have been a few reports (including one from Lamoille County below) of excessive mineral buildup on RO membranes.

Tree phenology is the study of seasonal and cyclical patterns of trees development.  Spring bud break is one of these patterns.  Unusually cold spring weather can delay bud-break whereas warm spring weather can accelerate the spring development of dormant sugar maple buds.  A long term set of observations (1991-present) and summary for sugar maple by the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative can be found here:  http://www.uvm.edu/vmc/about/annual_report/2014/phenology

One producer from Bennington County reports boiling 2/19, 2/22, 2/23, 2/27 & 2/28.  The sap sweetness at this operation is reported to be low (1.5-1.7%).  Syrup produced has been Dark Robust.    This producer has reached approximately 20-25% of a regular crop at this location.  Other reports from Bennington County indicate similarly low sap sweetness and dark grades of syrup being produced.  It appears that producers who were tapped in January (some for the first time) were well positioned to catch sap runs in early February ‘did well’.

A Windsor County producer reports tapping was completed between 2/20-2/23 (in record time).  Very strong runs came during last week and again beginning the afternoon of 2/27.  As of 2/25 this operation was at about ¼ of an average crop and by 3/3 this yield had reached approximately ½ of an average crop.  This producer reports never having made ‘this much syrup this early’.  A little less than ½ of the syrup is Golden with excellent flavor with the balance being Amber.  The sap sugar content at this location began around 2% and has since dropped to an average of 1.6-1.7% by the ‘end ‘of the run.

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Some sap flow experiments at University of Vermont, Proctor Maple Research Center are more complicated than others:  From 1964, ‘tree cut, space between trunck and stump dammed with plastic material, trunk put back in place.  Flow from trunk and stump recorded separately’.  J.W. Marvin, F.M. Laing, Claude Wagner and Floyd McLellan.   

A Rutland County producer reported tapping began on February 18th.  As of 2/27 tapping was nearly complete.  Good sap flow resulted in full tanks on 2/22.  First boil was on 2/23 with ‘nice Golden’ syrup having been produced.  Air temperatures reached 70F at this location on 2/25.  Sap continues to run with good vacuum (27” Hg) at this location despite a lack of cold temperatures.  This producer reports ‘all our snow has turned to mud’ during this period.

An Addison county producer with a relatively cold, northwest facing sugarbush reported finished tapping on February 19th.  First boil at this location was 2/23, with sap sweetness reported as 2.1% and very light Amber syrup (just below Golden in color) with excellent flavor being produced.  Boiling on the next two days (2/24-2/25) produced more good flavored Amber syrup with 2% sap sweetness on average.  A hard run of sap was reported on 2/28 at this location and sap sweetness holding at 2%.  Good flavored Amber syrup continued to be made.  Another strong run of sap into 3/1.  Sap sweetness has remained steady at 2% for this producer.  Good flavored Amber syrup continues to be produced at this location.  No off-flavors have been detected.  Total production at this location has reached approximately 1.6 pounds/tap.  This represents more than 1/3 of a crop for this operation.

A Washington County producer reports boiling two times by 2/27.  Sap averaged 1.8% and syrup grade was Amber with no off-flavors reported.  Tapping was 85% complete by this point.  Only patches of snow remained at this location (1200’ elevation).  3/1 brought this operation’s total yield to 0.5 pounds/tap.

One Lamoille County producer was 95% tapped as of 2/28.  First boil was 2/23 with another on 2/25.  First syrup produced at this location had a ‘very mild metabolized flavor’.  The off-flavor did not persist and all other syrup ‘has been fantastic flavor’.  Syrup grade has been Amber with color trended lighter with each barrel over this period.  This cold location still had plenty of snow on 2/28.  Sap did not flow well on 2/27.  A second Lamoille County operation reported very strong sap flow for the week 2/18-2/24. Sap sweetness 2.4% over this period.  This sap produced Golden syrup with no apparent off-flavor.  Yield was reported at 1.0 pounds/tap at this point with no off-flavors were detected.  As of 2/27 this operation had reached 1.28 pounds of syrup/tap (not quite ¼ of an average crop for this operation) Sap sweetness ranged from 2.0-2.5 over the five days 2/23-2/27.  This producer reports heavy mineral buildup on new RO membranes after only ‘just a little sap’ had been processed.  This producer was able to get flows back after acid washing.  The warm weather on 2/25 turned sap cloudy at this location.  Sap was clogging RO prefilters ‘just like it does in late season’.  Tapping was +95% completed as of 2/27 and expected to be finished by the end of the week.  As of 3/2 this operations syrup yield has reached 1.89 pounds/tap.  Very good sap flow averaging 2.3%.  ‘Very strong metabolism’ off-flavor was detected starting with syrup made on 3/2.  This operation boils sap from two locations and it was attempting to determine if one of the sources contributed to the off-flavor more than the other.

An Orleans County producer with roughly 3000 taps reports tapping began 2/19.  Deep snow (+3’) was estimated in the woods.  Sap was collected 2/23-2/25 and tested at 1.8%.  Boiling on 2/24 and 2/25 produced Amber syrup with no off-flavors reported.  A fresh coat of snow (6”) feel on 2/25.  Sap was running 3/1 at this location.  Tapping was expected to be finished on 3/2.

In Essex County, a producer reports tapping finished on 2/28.  First boil was on 2/24.  Sap sweetness was 1.7 and produced Dark syrup.  Sap was 2% on both 2/25 and 3/1.  Syrup was Dark on 2/25 and Amber on 3/1.  By this point, yields at this location had reached approximately 10% of a crop.  Syrup quality was ‘all nice’ and ‘no sand or nitre’ was reported.

 

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Vermont Maple Bulletin 2017

The 2017 Vermont maple syrup production season has begun and with that comes the second year of the Vermont Maple Bulletin.  The Bulletin is an attempt to capture the week to week flavor of the maple season throughout the state.  The Bulletin is not intended to be rigorous analysis but rather a brief summary of the action during the season.  The first post of 2017 will be a somewhat abbreviated one as this is still the cusp of the season.  Many operations in Vermont have some made syrup as of today (2/21) but many more are still ramping up for the season.  Expect more detailed posts as more reports come in.  The next seven days have the potential for good runs of sap.

First a look back in time.  The beginning of the season came for some during the brief but significant warm period in January many more producers choose to wait out the January thaw.  The warm temperatures were fairly uniform across the state even some of the coldest pockets (see below).

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Responses from producers could generally be described as saying “it’s still too early to tap”.   Of course it won’t be until the end of the season that it will be known if going early was a good strategy.  Those operations that had begun tapping out of necessity (very large operations) or those that were especially interested in capturing early sap did make some syrup.  Generally, the total syrup produced from these runs of sap accounted for roughly 5% of operations total average crop. At least one operation reported reaching 10% of an average crop during this time.

A January report from much further south (Litchfield, Connecticut), had an operation at 1200 feet elevation tapped on 1/26-1/27, collected 400 gallons on 1/28 and boiled on 1/29.  With average sap flow rates that producer saw sap sweetness at 2.0%.  Syrup grade was Dark at this time with no off-flavors.  Total yield had reached just under 0.2 pounds/tap as of 2/4. One large producer in Lamoille County reported collecting sap from just over 13,000 taps during the warmth of the second week of January.  Sap sweetness was reported to range from 1.6-2.3%.  As of January 27th this producer had seen average sap flow rates, made Golden syrup with no off-flavors and accumulated 0.5 pounds of production/tap.

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Tree wells (the name given to when snow melts away from the base of a tree) are a good indication that sap flow is possible.  Sap flow in smaller trees tends to be more responsive to warming events but will generally produce proportionally less volume.  

A few scattered reports from around the state indicate seasonable sap sugar contents to good mid-season sugar contents.  It is hard to characterize this period without a larger number of reports.  Syrup quality appears to be good and some accounts of very good sap flow rates might be an sign that trees are not deeply frozen as can sometimes be the case this time of year.

Stay tuned for the next update.

 

April 13th-April 21st

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Get while the getting is good:  Small sugar maple trees growing in the understory, such as the one pictured, leaf out early in order to make more than 75% of their yearly carbohydrate production in the days before the overstory fully leafs out.  

The 2016 season ended for virtually all operations in Vermont this past week.  While some operations were not pleased with this year’s production, many have had an average to above average crop of syrup.  Operations from all parts of the state have reported seeing a few runs of sap greater than anything seen in recent history.  Some of these operations report making 10-20% of their entire crop in 24 hours.  While early warm temperatures allowed producers to make syrup in late January-early February it’s not yet clear how much these early runs contributed to the total yield.  A lack of many reports of widespread off flavor suggest that this year was good in terms of flavor.  The story of sap sweetness 2016 also remains unsettled.  There have been many reports of below average sap sweetness while other producers report average to above average sweetness this year.  Without detailed records and standardized methods of when and how to measure sugar content it is difficult to draw too many conclusions on this subject.  No doubt this will be vigorously debated in the months to come.

In Addison county, a producer reports that 4/19 was their last boil.  This producer reports an above average season.  The season began at this cold location on 3/9.  The sap sweetness averaged 1.5% during the last week.  The syrup produced was Dark with no off flavors reported.  Total season syrup production reached 4.47 pounds/tap at this location.  There was a ‘monster run’ on 3/12 at this location (larger than anything seen in eight years and represented ~7.5% of the entire crop).

In Rutland county, one operation reports that the season ended on 3/31 and production was average overall.  Season syrup yield was 4.2 pounds/tap.  This operation saw weather as the greatest challenge to having a more productive season.  Early warm temperatures and a few noteworthy high temperature days may have impacted late season sap flow by enhancing microbial growth in tap holes earlier than normal.  The syrup produced at this location also appeared to reflect the periods of above average temperatures with some good flavored Dark syrup being made in mid-March.   This operation saw very little in the way of sugar sand.  This producer noticed that during part of the season, the niter took on a dark, cloudy consistency even while Amber syrup was being produced.  At the end of the season, following ‘the last cold spell’, abundant white sugar sand was developing faster than normal.

Operations in Chittenden county have reached the end of the season as well.  One producer reports an above average crop.  Sap sweetness was down to around 1.5% at the end.  The total season production was 6.75 pounds of syrup/tap at this location.  This represents a little above the 12-year historical average for this location.  This producer chose to dump sap a few times late in the season to keep syrup quality from dropping to Processing grade.  Another producer reports ending the season on 4/16 and reaching 7 pounds of syrup/tap.  Syrup grade was a mix of Golden and Amber mostly.  Not much off flavored syrup was reported at this location.

In Lamoille county one producer reports being very pleased with the season.  This operation first made syrup on February 29th and the last boil of ‘decent syrup’ was March 31st.  A boil on March 11th produced severely buddy syrup.  March ended up being a very productive month, with some the greatest sap flow occurring between the 25th-27th.  The sap sweetness was perhaps lower than normal at this location.  This producer reports sap starting out at 2.0%, dropping to and remaining at 1.8% for most of the season.  The last run of sap was 1.6%.  Syrup grade tended to be darker than average for this producer.  Except for a few gallons of borderline Amber/Rich at the start of the season, 2/3 of the syrup was Dark/Robust with the remaining 1/3 coming in at Very Dark/Strong.  The bulk of the crop was Total season syrup production at this location was 4.34 pounds/tap.  Another producer reports that the season has ended (4/19).  The sap flow over the past week was good in general and slowed down following the last warm up.  Sap sweetness dropped from 2% to just under 1.8%.  Syrup was mostly Amber/Rich but changed to Dark/Strong with no off flavors on 4/17.  Total season syrup production at this location has reached 5/5 pounds/tap.  This represents the ‘best season by far for our three years (in operation)’.  This producer attributes the high production to two factors; length of season and sweeter than average sap.  This producer also reports making at least 15% of the crop as off flavored syrup in the previous two years.  This season it is unlikely that any of their crop will be off flavored.  Yet another operation reports that the season continued as of 4/18.  The past week saw average sap flows and sap sweetness around 1.7%.  The syrup produced had ‘decent flavor’ for most of the week until late Sunday when things changed dramatically.  Sap flow ‘dropped way off’ and flavor was no longer table grade.  Total season syrup production reached 6.25 pounds/tap at this operation.

The past week brought light, good tasting syrup as well as the end of the season to one operation in far eastern Orleans county.  The final boil at this location was on 4/18 with Dark syrup being produced.  Total season syrup production reached 6.2 pounds/tap for this operation.  This a ‘very big year’ for this operation, exceeding past records for production/tap dating back more than 35 years.

In Caledonia county a producer reports the end of the season arrived on 4/17 with the onset of buddy flavored syrup.  The sap sweetness was still running 1.5-1.6% at the end.  This producer also reports that sap sweetness was above average this year without a lot of niter ‘and barely any sugar sand’.  The total syrup production at this location ended up at 6.3 pounds/tap.  The season lasted from 2/25-4/17 at this location with 19 days boiled.

In Essex county, a producer expected the end of the season to be on 4/19 as the sap had turned buddy on 4/18 and sap flow was quite slow.  Sap sweetness dropped from 1.7% to 1.5% over those two days.  This operation saw its first run of sap on 2/2.  The majority of the syrup produced at this location was Golden and Amber.  There was not much Dark syrup made.  Total season syrup yield was just under 4.25 pounds/tap.  This producer reports the best week of production came between 3/27-4/2 with extremely large runs of sap.

 

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A wood pellet evaporator in operation earlier in the season (Hyde Park, VT). 

Lastly, this will be the last edition for the 2016 season.  A tremendous thank you to all the producers who took time away from their operations to contribute information for this project.  With very little advertising or promotion, the Vermont Maple Bulletin has received a good deal of attention and positive feedback.  The Bulletin will be continued next season.

Mark Isselhardt

University of Vermont Extension Maple Program

April 7th-April 12th

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Syrup production continues on at Thunder Basin Maple Works in Cambridge while snow continues to cover the summit of Mount Mansfield in the background.

The end of the season has come for more operations this past week.  The sunny skies and the warmest temperatures seen in quite some time will likely halt production by this weekend for many operations.  Across the board, the reports are of a good to great season.  Many producers report gathering sap during the early warm weather.  Even those who did not collect early appear to be on track for a good crop.  Operations in the northern third of the state continue to collect sap, with especially cool pockets reporting clear sap and good quality syrup being produced.

The sense from around Bennington county is that most producers had a great production season.  It also appears as though less Golden syrup was produced this year.  One producer with a higher elevation sugarbush (~2,500’) reports boiling twice last week with the syrup taking on a slight metabolism off flavor following a period of cold weather.  The off flavor was no longer present on Tuesday (4/12) when more syrup was produced.  Sap flow at this location was generally poor over the past week.  Sap sweetness averaged 1.9%.  Syrup produced was Dark or Very Dark during this period.  Another producer reports a season long syrup yield reaching 4.04 pounds/tap so far. Some operations are reporting below average sap sweetness while others are not.

In Windham county a producer reports that production is continuing for a while longer.  They will likely end production this week as warm weather returns.  So far the season long production stands at just over 5.5 pounds of syrup/tap.  Some of that production was from buckets.  The bucket only production was just under 3 pounds of syrup/tap.  Peepers were heard at this location on Wednesday (4/13).

In Washington county, one producer reports boiling last Friday (4/8) for the first time in a week.  The syrup had ‘end of season taste, color and smell.  Syrup didn’t filter well either’.  The total syrup yield at this location has reached just under 3.4 pounds/tap.  This operation plans to keep going until buddy syrup is produced.

In Addison county, one producer reports below average sap flow over the past week.  The sap sweetness has dropped to 1.5%.  Dark syrup was produced with no off flavors and very little sugar sand.  Total syrup yield at this location has reached 4.13 pounds/tap.

In Chittenden county, one location reports reaching 6.8 pounds of syrup/tap.  Syrup grade is Amber to Dark with some off flavor.  Another location reports sap sweetness has dropped to 1.5-1.6%.  Total season yield has reached just under 6.6 pounds of syrup/tap.  Late season syrup flavor (perhaps a light buddy) is being reported.

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Vacuum sap collection chamber at UVM Proctor Maple Research Center.  These chambers are part of an ongoing, long-term project investigating sugar maple (Acer saccharum) stem growth response to two levels of sap extraction (high vacuum and gravity) compared to control (no extraction).  2016 was the third year of this project.

In Lamoille county, one producer that finished on March 31st reports that sap sweetness appeared to be lower than normal for that location.  3-4 early sap runs averaged 2-2.2% at most.  Everything since then has been below 2.0%, with last week’s sap testing at 1.4-1.5%.  This operation has made all Dark or Very Dark syrup.  Another sugar maker reports very little sap this past week.  A short run on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning (4/7-4/8).  Sap sweetness was 2.0% or just below.  Syrup grade has been Amber to Very Dark with no off flavors this past week.  Total syrup yield at this location has reached 4.25 pounds/tap.  One more producer in Lamoille county reports generally good sap flow over the past week.  The sap sweetness at this location averaged 1.7% over this period.  Syrup being produced is now Amber with some light buddy off flavor.  The overall sense around Lamoille county is that it has been and excellent production year.  Some say it has been the best year ever (although changes and improvements to the tubing systems may account for some of the added production).

The season continues in Orleans county where one producer reports good sap flow last week (4/7-4/8) until the cold weekend weather shut everything down.  Sap sweetness was 1.6% over this time.  Syrup produced was Dark with no off flavors reported.  A run on Monday (4/11) saw sap sweetness climb up to 1.8% and syrup grade lighten to Amber.  New sap is reported to be clear.Total season syrup yield has now reached 5.0 pounds/tap at this location.

In Caledonia county one producer reports that sap sweetness has been high this year.  This operation has only collected sap below 2.0% for 6-8 hours all season.  The last test of sap was 2.2%.  The syrup was a ‘great tasting Amber/Rich’ that the sugar maker was convinced would be commercial.  This producer thinks they will be able to continue through this week but expects the sunny weekend weather will negatively impact syrup flavor.  Total syrup yield has reached 4.89 pounds/tap at this location.

March 29th-April 6th

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Dr Jim Marvin (left) and Mr. Lloyd Sipple discuss an early reverse osmosis machine in Bainbridge, NY (April 20th, 1968).

While there are a few extremely cold pockets that exist, the 2016 season ended in most southerly locations over last week.  By and large, reports are that producers who have finished production had a good to very good season.  Given the cold weather that has separated periods of sap flow, some are calling this a season in three acts.  This third act (for those still producing) will begin today or tomorrow (4/6-4/7).  Depending on the quality of sap that is produced with this run, some producers will make more syrup while others will be forced to call it a season.

Bennington county reports indicate that virtually every producer is done.  However, there are at least one or two producers still going.  One operation with a higher elevation sugarbush (~2,500’) was still producing as of Sunday (4/3).  They have had a good season so far with a syrup/tap yield of 4.4 pounds.   Sap sweetness has averaged ~2.0% all season.  This is apparently a little high for their average.  No off-flavors have been made at this location.

One Addison county producer (cold location) reports average to very good sap flow on 3/30 and 3/31 respectively.  Poor sap flow is reported for the next two days (4/1-4/2).  Sap sweetness was between 1.6-1.7% at this location.  Syrup grade was either Amber or Dark with no off-flavors reported.  Lots of sugar sand was reported at this location last week.  Total season syrup production has reached 4.07 pounds/tap.

The report from Chittenden county includes one operation that has seen sap sweetness drop from 2% to 1.7% over the past week.  This operation most recently made Dark syrup with no off-flavors.  Total season syrup yield has reached 5.83 pounds/tap.  Another producer reports sap dropping in sweetness to 1.4%.  Total season production for that operation reached 6.0 pounds of syrup/tap by Saturday (4/2).  Syrup produced at that location on Friday and Saturday (4/1-4/2) changed from Golden to Amber and syrup produced on the second day appeared to have a slight change in flavor.  Other reports from around the county include producers reaching between 5-6 pounds of syrup/tap.

In Lamoille county, one producer reports a huge run on 3/29-3/31 and below average flow on 4/1-4/2.  Sap sweetness was 2.0% over this time.  Syrup produced was mostly Golden before changing to Dark at the end of the run.  No off-flavors were reported during this time.  Total syrup yield has reached 4.1 pounds/tap at this location.  Another producer reports good to very good sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness has ranged from 1.6-1.8%.  Syrup produced at this location was either Dark or Very Dark over the past week.  The syrup produced on 3/31 had very good maple flavor but a slight change in the flavor was also detected.  Total season syrup yield has reached 4.33 pounds/tap at this location.  In what may be true for many others, this location had sap runs large enough to equal 25% of the crop in two days.  A third producer in Lamoille county reports good sap flow over the last week.  Sap sweetness has averaged 1.8% and the syrup produced has been Amber.  Some slight change in the flavor has been detected but it is still considered table grade at this location.  Total syrup yield for this producer stands at 5.1 pounds/tap.

Orleans county (Morgan) reports good production through last Tuesday morning (3/29) but then cold temperatures and snow stopped sap flow.  Things opened up slowly on the following afternoon (3/30) and then ran hard on Thursday (3/31).  This run lasted until Sunday (4/2) and included the highest rate of sap flow and syrup production every recorded for this location.  Syrup grade was Golden.  Towards the end of the run, sap started to get cloudy and sap sweetness fell to 1.5%.  By this time, syrup grade had become Dark with good flavor.  In all, this operation reports making a mix of Golden, Amber and Dark syrup with no off flavors.  Total syrup production has reached 4.6 pounds/tap at this location.

In Caledonia county, one producer reports the sap ran between 3/31-4/2 and was ‘a season making run’.  The syrup produced early in the run was Golden and was ‘best flavored syrup of the year’.  Syrup grade darkened through the range of Amber by the end of the run.  Sap sweetness began at 2.5% and dropped progressively each day of the run, ending at 1.8-1.9% by the end.  Total syrup yield at this location has reached 4.49 pounds/tap.  This producer is taking the active step of pulling spouts on red maples before the next run.

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March 23rd-March 29th

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One of many: Across Vermont, producers saw one or two large sap runs over the past week.

A solid run of sap was collected by many producers in Vermont Tuesday-Wednesday (3/22-3/23).  While there have been plenty of reports of overall lower than average sap sweetness, others have seen sap remain in typical ranges.  Like so many things in the world of maple production the answer will have to wait until the end of the season.  There have been some reports of niter appearing in larger quantities and/or different consistencies this week.  Sap ran extremely hard for many producers over the weekend as well (3/27-3/28).  Reports of record rates of sap flow had many producers boiling late and producing a lot of syrup in a short period of time.

In Bennington county, the report is that sap continues to be collected from some operations, especially those with trees at higher elevations.  One operation had strong runs Monday through Wednesday (3/21-23) while others saw ‘strong runs throughout the week’.  Sap flow tapered off a bit on Saturday (3/26) following a freeze the night before.  Some light colored syrup with a ‘butterscotch taste’ was produced Friday night (3/25).  The sense in this part of Vermont is that the crop will end up being average to above average (even for those who did not collect the early run around February 1st).

In Washington county. one operation reports reaching 2.75 pounds of syrup/tap.  The syrup being produced has been Amber and Dark (no Golden) with ‘first of the season, creamy taste’.  Producers are optimistic about plenty more production to come.

In Addison county, a producer in an especially cold area reports that sap flow was average to very good during the last week.  Sap sweetness has averaged 1.83 ⁰brix over this time. Syrup grade has been consistently Amber with no off flavors reported.  Total season syrup yield has now reached 2.94 pounds/tap at this location.  Sugar sand appeared along with a great run of sap on Friday (3/25).  Sunday’s big run (3/27) also featured a ‘good amount of sugar sand’.

In Chittenden county, one operation in Underhill reports strong sap flow, especially over the weekend (3/25-3/27).  Sap sweetness has ranged at this location between 1.6-2.0% over this time.  Only good flavored syrup has been produced so far.  The niter produced has taken on a pasty consistency which has made filtering difficult.  Total syrup yield has reached 4.9 pounds/tap at this location.  Another operation reports strong flows and relatively sweet sap (~2.0%) over the past week.  Total season syrup production has reached 0.495 pounds/tap.

In Lamoille county, one producer had very good runs of sap Wednesday (3/23) as well as Friday straight through the weekend (3/25-27).  Sap sweetness has been between 1.7-1.8% during this period.  Syrup grade had been Dark with a strong (but not bad) flavor earlier in the week and has steadily improved to the point of being ‘amazing’ to this producer.  Syrup color has almost reached Amber with ‘super flavor’.  Total season syrup yield has reached 3.65 pounds/tap at this location.  Another Lamoille county producer very good sap flow (especially over the weekend.  Sap sweetness has averaged 2.1% and syrup grade Amber (with no off flavors) was produced during this period.  Total season syrup yield at this location has reached 4.0 pounds/tap.  Another operation (in a generally cold location) reports that sap flow was below average for most of the week and above average from Sunday to Monday (3/27-3/28).  Sap sweetness has averaged 2.0% or better.  Syrup grade produced has been all Golden with no off flavors reported.  This location has seen ‘lots’ of niter and it is impacting syrup filtering capacity of the press (lowered by ~50% at one point).  Total syrup production has reached a yield of 3.1 pounds/tap at this location.

One Orleans county producer reports very good sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2.2% and Golden syrup was being produced.  This operation uses steam evaporation and so generally makes light colored syrup.  Total syrup yield at this operation has reached 2.24 pounds/tap.  The prediction from this operation is for a big crop (if things continue ‘as is’).  Another operation (this one in a historically cold location) reports experiencing temperatures too cold for sap flow and 4-6” of snow.  Temperatures warmed enough later on Saturday (3/26) for sap to flow.  Sunday morning brought the start of big run that was continuing into Monday (3/28).  Sap sweetness rose to 2.4% and was clear following the sustained cold period.  Nice flavored Golden syrup was being produced most recently at this location.  Total season syrup yield has reached 2.9 pounds/tap at this location.

From Caledonia county, one operation reports little to no flow from until Saturday (3/26).  When it did open up the sap ran hard.  Sunday (3/27) had sap flow rates just under 4 gallons/tap/24 hours.  The sap sugar content was 2.4%.  Warm sap temperatures made for easier (and higher) concentration with the RO.  The higher elevation trees at this location ‘finally started running’ during this period.   Syrup grade changed from Amber to Golden with no off flavors reported.  Total season yield has reached 2.9 pounds of syrup/tap.

Looking ahead, the forecast includes a period of moderating temperatures for the middle to end of the week.  A bit further out it appears that more freezing weather is coming.

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March 16th-March 22nd

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At this stage of the season many sugar makers will be looking to the crowns of trees for clues about how much longer the season will last.Red maple (Acer rubrum) flower buds showing no visual sign of breaking in Underhill Center on Monday (3/21).

The past week has included some warm temperatures and some cold temperatures.  Unfortunately for sugar makers (especially in colder or more northern areas) those temperatures have not come in the ideal pattern that produces great amounts of sap flow.  The week ahead could be much better for operations where a larger swing across the freezing mark happens daily instead of every few days.  Others will likely see limited flow given that when temperatures do warm up, it will be for only a limited time in the afternoons.  The hope for many producers that are nearing the end of the season is that cooler temperatures and cloudy skies will keep trees exit from winter dormancy in check for at least a week or more.

Bennington county reports there are still operations in action.  The sense is that production in the valleys has come to an end even without reports of buddy syrup being produced.  Producers relatively higher in elevation report strong runs.  The operation that has been reporting all season had freezes on Friday-Sunday (3/18-3/20).  This producer collected sap that tested at 1.5-1.8%.  Most operations are nearing a full crop or thereabouts.  Syrup grade is reported to be Dark with good taste and no off flavor.

The season continues in Windham county as well.  One operation, whose sugarbush is around 1800’, reports sap continues to flow.  The most recent sap sweetness has been about 1.7 for this operation.  Syrup produced at this location has been Very Dark or Dark with no off flavors and no filtering issues as of Monday (3/21).  The total season yield has reached 2.81 pounds syrup/tap or about 75% of an average crop.  A lack of light syrup and overall poor production has been reported (third hand) from some operations. With limited details given on particular tubing/vacuum system performance it is hard to say if this represents the entire counties season.

One Rutland county operation with a sugarbush that ranges from 750-1,300’ in elevation and has correspondingly variable temperatures reports sap sweetness at 1.7% and ‘starting to drop’.  Syrup produced recently has been Very Dark with no off flavors.  Total season yield at this location stood at just under 4 pounds of syrup/tap as of Monday (3/21).  This represents 90% of a crop for this operation.

In Washington county one producer reports average amounts of niter this season.  That operation’s production is at just under 1.5 pounds of syrup/tap.  This puts their season yield at around 50%.  The syrup produced thus far has been mostly Dark with a bit of Amber.  The most recent syrup has begun to be difficult to filter.

In Addison county, one producer reports average sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness has dropped somewhat from 2.0 down to 1.8%.  Syrup grade has been Amber with some great flavor especially early in the week (3/15).  Sugar sand has been present for most of the week at this operation (especially abundant on 3/16).  The total season yield has reached 2.2 pounds of syrup/tap.  This represents 50% of an average crop for this producer.

In Chittenden county, one operation reports good sap flow and sweetness around 2%.  The syrup produced at this location has been Golden with good flavor.  Some niter is reported but with no serious issues of filtering.  To date this operation’s season long yield has reached 3.41 pounds of syrup/tap.  Other reports peg yields between 3.3-4.18 pounds of syrup/tap.  Most operations appear to be between 50-60% of a good crop.

In Lamoille county, one producer in what’s should be considered a cold sugarbush reports average flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been 2.0% on average.  Syrup produced has been Golden with no off flavors detected.  The season yield has reached 2.1 pounds/tap.  This past week has seen lots of niter but no filtering issues.  Another operation in Lamoille county reports average sap flow over the past week with sap sweetness ranging from 2.2-2.5%.  This operation usually makes light colored syrup but saw the color drop slightly to Amber this week.  The season yield at this operation has reached 3.09 pounds of syrup/ tap.  This represents 50% of an average crop.  This producer has observed the sap changing to be more like what is seen entering the end of the season (harder to filter).  A third Lamoille county producer reports very good sap flow (especially 3/14-17).  Sap sweetness has dropped this week from an average of 2.0 down to 1.8%.  Season yield has reached 2.18 pounds of syrup/tap which equates to between 70-80% of an average crop.  A side note to this seasons production is that a little bit less than half the crop was made in the last 7 days.  Syrup has produced this week has been all Very Dark except for Tuesday (3/15) which was Dark.  No off flavors have appeared although the last two days of production have been notable for very strong flavors

In Franklin county one operation reports ‘strong’ production last week.  Syrup production was perhaps the best one week ever for this producer.  Sap sugar content has dropped some, but this producer is hopeful that it could rebound some following the period of freezing weather.  Unless the forecast changes dramatically, this operation expects to get ‘a couple more weeks’ of production and reach a full crop.  Currently this operation’s yield stands at 3.7 pounds of syrup/tap, which would equal about 50% of a very good year.

In Caledonia county one operation reports sap sweetness ‘holding strong at 2.0-2.1%’ and ‘ is looking a little bit cloudy’.  Total season syrup yield reached 2.26 pounds/tap as of (3/22).  With sap flow expected midweek, the yield should be around 2.5 pounds/tap.  That would represent about 50% of a full crop (this is the 3rd year at this sugarbush).  Low niter is reported and no syrup filtering issues reported.  Some wind damage caused a drop in vacuum.  Even though no visual signs of bud development have been observed, this operation is planning on pulling just red maple spouts (~4% of the total) after this coming weekend.

In Orleans county, one operation (Morgan) saw very good sap flow for the second week in a row.  Sap has been ‘beautiful’, clear and averaging 2.0%.  Syrup produced has been Amber with no off flavors.  The niter has been average in the is operation although it appeared to be heavier early in the week compared to the end of the week.  Like many places around the state, cold weather limited or completely stopped sap flow starting sometime on Friday (3/18).  The season yield has reached 2.2 pounds of syrup/tap.  This represents 50% of an average crop at this location.

In Essex county, one producer reports sunny and relatively warm temperatures brought good sap flow earlier in the week (15-16).  Sap sugar concentration averaged 2.2%.  Sugar sand appeared for the first time on Tuesday (3/15) and a bit more the following day but then was less again by the middle of the week.  Sap sweetness has gone down some (from 2.2 down to 2%).  The total yield to date at this operation has reached 65%.  Sap flow has slowed to a trickle during the past few days.  However, the forecast for cold weather has this producer encouraged that the end to the season is not here yet.

IR_0194
Infrared image of a large (24″ dbh) sugar maple in the sun showing how much the sun can warm the surface of a south facing tree.  The air temperature in the shade was in the low 20’s at the time of the picture

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