Aside from the last two days we boiled we continued to make good flavored syrup. We could have made it another day or two, but the sap was not running very well and our packer was not thrilled about the ides of taking more commercial grade. On top of that it was not paying much either.
The season will definitely be one to remember. It started early with above average temps in Feb and March and then just what you would ask for, below average April temps. It had extremely hard runs, beautiful sunny days and not too many equipment break downs. One thing we will remember about the season is how many night time runs we had. There were many times when warm weather moved in over night and either started the trees running or got them running really hard in the middle of the night. That made it a little taxing on us as we had to be at the sugarhouse overnight to switch tanks, and run the RO.
Overall we ended up making a good mix of all grades including some extremely light fancy 2/3 through the season. I think we dispelled the notion that color is purely an effect of sap temp and bacterial growth.
The huge season gave a preview of what we have to look forward to when we add more taps and really pushed our equipment to the max. We identified a bunch of things we need to improve or add to make our boiling times more reasonable, and lower our stress level, as well as things that are necessary to add the 5000 taps on the property we closed on recently.
We also decided we are too big for our wood fired evaporator. We had two boils over 1000 gallons and next year that will be all the more common. Making only 80 gallons an hour of syrup is too slow, as is shut down time and stat up time. It was great and cost effective when we had 14,000 or 18,000 taps but for 27,000+ its too little. We are going to switch back to oil and are looking into trading the arch and pans or arch only depending on what is out there. We are looking for two things, great efficiency and speed.
We are going to add on to the sugarhouse and eclose our tanks. Sugaring in the middle of winter, which is now a reality every year, is tough with tanks outside and unheated so we will address that issue. We also are going to make a larger RO and releaser room and add a second smaller RO as well as replace our two releasers to accommodate more taps. We had originally planned on expanding our RO machine as we were told it was easy and inexpensive, but it turns out that expansion is not very efficient and the other option is very costly. Rather than spend a lot to have one larger machine we are going to add a second which will give us more flexibility and also could save us one day if our big machine goes down.
If anyone is interested in buying our evaporator or releasers please get in touch with us for more info.