Cold March weather is finally gone, but not before causing us some major problems. We are certainly glad March is in the rearview.
We had about 4′ of snow dumped on us as well as a frozen vacuum line to our pump house 7000′ from the sugarhouse that took us days to repair. We ended up replacing 600′ of 2″ pipe and then cutting the remainder of the pipe in at least 10 places to get the ice out of the line and vacuum back to the woods. The culprit was our humidity trap malfunctioning and obviously not stopping the sap from being sucked up the line.
When the sap did start to run on March 25 we were slogging through all that snow and digging buried mainlines out of the snow for days. Our vacuum sensors did help us in figuring out which mainlines were buried rather than walking them all because any that were not reading 0″ of vacuum were not buried. On top of that we had a total of probably 350-400 spouts of of 9000 of this type of barbless spout pop off throughout the last 10 days. On the worst day we had about 125 pop off the previous night. Thats over 1 out of every 100 taps. I was pretty upset as I had become concerned back in January about these spouts and decided to trade in 12,000 of them for a different spout, had made sure everyone got every single of the remaining barbless spouts on all the way, and even had removed some from the drop line by hand. I and also alerted the manufacturer of said spout in January and was assured that they would not be a problem. I have no tolerance for that type of issue. It is simply something that should not happen, sugar makers have enough to deal with as it is and slogging through 4′ of snow to find 100’s of spouts hanging is not acceptable. Needless to say, ill never use a spout that does not have a barb.
Now as for the sugar making, we have had a really big 10 days. We are unto 11,100 gallons which is .43 gallons per tap. We never had a giant run but just consistently big days. Sugar content as a whole has been below average with many days around 1.5% My highest elevation woods have had the highest sugar content. We still have plenty of snow throughout the entire sugarbush and things are primed for another big week or so. I suspect that this coming week will be really good for us and then we will begin to tail off especially if we get any warm weather. I am hearing huge variances in production throughout the state with warm bushes in the champlain valley doing exceptional, though their runs are slowing and some are even finishing up, while places in colder higher elevation areas are doing poor, with some bushes not seeing any good runs just yet. We seem to be right in the middle. I predict that we will be slightly above average in terms of production this year.
The flavor this past week plus has been exceptional with probably 60% or more of the syrup being fancy, and the remainder a high Amber Rich. We did make a few barrels of off flavor syrup from some of the sap that trickled in in Mid march that we had to hold for weeks until we got enough to boil. Niter has been very heavy and I’ve hardly used any filter aid recently.
We’ve taken these few cold days to clean the evaporator and get some family time in. We have mostly caught up on sleep and are ready for the last few weeks of the season.
Ill update everyone on how the season winds up for us soon.