The sugaring season has come to a screeching halt up here in the Mountains of Underhill. After a record breaking February, we have only boiled twice in March. We have made just under 5000 gallons which is a bit over a third of a crop for us. Unfortunately we don’t have any sugaring weather forecast in the next 10 days. I am pretty grateful for a good early season as we are going to be counting on April to account for a lot of our production by the looks. Generally, we produce more syrup in April than March, but in the new world we live in of climate extremes it only takes one of these extreme warm spells to shut the season down for everyone.
I know that sugar makers in lower elevations have been getting good runs through the first part of March, and even the buckets at tapped at my house have been running better than I have enter seen, but we are just a little too high in elevation for the temps to get above freezing, or the few days it has, for too short a period to add up to anything too significant. It is a little frustrating when 5 buckets run more than 26,000 taps day after day! Hopefully we will make it up at the back end of the season.
We have been staying busy in the woods either way making some improvements to a problem area over a stream by replacing PVC 2″ pipe with black plastic and putting stainless fitting in our wet/ dry line connections. We have always known this was a problem area at the beginning of a 5000 tap wet/dry system but until we installed the sensors this year never knew how much of one it was. The entire system would freeze for days and we would get little to no vacuum above this area on days that were relatively cool but the sap was running. This improvement should help a lot. We have also added a mainline with about 165 taps and will be replacing to boosters that are giving us trouble next week.
The sensors have been proving their worth especially after a long freeze where things break and lines pop apart. Instead of searching all day on one system we can easily go to the exact line that has an issue and quickly fix the problem. Yesterday we spent probably 1.5 hours finding these few issues as the sap ran a bit, last year we may have spent 3/4 of the day.
I did have a few issues at one pump house, and it seems my humidity trap let sap by and into my vacuum line. I think Ill have to keep the vacuum off and let sap run on gravity for the first half of one run next time it warms up for the sap in the vacuum line to drain back into the humidity trap. Thats quite a pain to deal with.
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