We’ve closed the books on another good sugaring season, producing 12,600 gallons which comes out to about 6.1 lbs per tap. We ended on April 11 after the weekend with highs in the 70’s smoked us. Leading up to that we had seen a consistent week with rain almost every day and no freezes at night. It made for consistent boils every day, but as I predicted, was not enough to really get things running hard. That all changed after we got 3″ of snow at the end of the week and froze for a day. We saw our hardest runs of the season over the final weekend, and if the sugar content would have been average as opposed to 1.0-1.5% we would have likely set records for largest boils.
Knowing that we would be fighting the heat and concentrate spoilage, we boiled both morning and evening to preserve the flavor and sap quality. We did have some spoilage both evenings and had to dump some concentrate. We have decided next year we will build a wall between our concentrate room and boiling room as it gets too hot up there. We think that should help with boiling on warm days.
We actually had our evaporator call the season for us. As I was boiling the flow stopped between the front and back pan (crazy things happen with poor sap). I immediately shut the evaporator down and got it taken care of 30 seconds, but the evaporator would not re fire. By the time CDL came to the sugarhouse and fixed it, my concentrate had completely spoiled. We thought about continuing on into the next week, but seeing no cool weather in sight, and that my trees had budded already, I saw no way to produce anything better than commercial grade. Typically we keep going, but with commercial paying only $1/ pound, it doesn’t really pay the burn the oil, electricity, pay the labor, and risk membranes, and pans. It was the easiest decision to end the season in years.
Overall, it was our second best season behind last years, and really pretty easy to boot. Being that the season was long and stretched out we never had any crazy weeks where we were going all night every night. It seemed that we would run for 3 or 4 days and then have a break. The weather conditions also prevented us from having any super hard sap runs until the last weekend. Our new equipment certainly helped us as well because we were making syrup almost twice as fast. The translates directly into more sleep. The front pan washer we purchased also made the following day much easier, and having two RO’s allowed us to process sap sooner without any down time and to easily stay ahead of the sap flow.
Looking forward, we will finish un tapping this week and then have a lot of clean up to do at the sugarhouse and all the pump stations. I have another 5000 taps that we are going to add right away, and then we plan to replace 10,500 drops that have dirty tubing. Lastly, we are going to upgrade one of our pump houses and get a 20×28 building up that will have our tanks indoors and heated and a concrete floor. Now that we sugar all winter, having tanks heated makes life so much easier. We need to replace a float system in the same pump house as the current one gave us tons of problems all season. We are also planning on doing a bit of work on our driveway by putting in some more drainage pipe underneath it and re grading and surfacing it. Lastly, we are going to buy a plow/syrup drum delivery truck. Our current plow truck has surpassed its useful life, and to move barrels of syrup we have rented a truck in the past. We should be able to kill two birds with one stone with our new truck.
As you can see we will be very busy, as usual this off season and Ill try to keep you posted on the progress.