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Thread: Tapping trees underway in NE Minnesota

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Lutsen, Minnesota, United States
    Posts
    1

    Default Tapping trees underway in NE Minnesota

    Hey, Here in Lutsen Minnesota we started tapping our sugar bush on January 17th, 2014. Between the three of us we accomplished a little more than 2000 taps in three days - with 22,000 to go. The "polar vortex" has put us off Monday and looks like again today (Tuesday), we awoke to -21 here in Grand Marais. Snow depths are roughly four feet. It's slow going on the snowshoes with a snow consistency of wonderful-powder. We put together a Facebook page and posted all kinds of photos of our progress since June when we expanded our network: https://www.facebook.com/sawtoothmaplesyrup

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Alaska (Minnesota For Sugaring)
    Posts
    289

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    Wow! Have you tapped this early before? If so, apparently it worked out well for you!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Allegheny National Forest
    Posts
    1,443

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    Looked at your Facebook page. Nice looking operation. Lots of hard work! welcome to the site.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Lutsen, Mn
    Posts
    21

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    Thankyou for the nice comments about our maple syrup operation. My fellow colleagues from Sawtooth Mountain Maple Syrup have asked me to reply to the question posted on this thread. We have been sugaring here at Lutsen for just short of 20 years and have seen a wide range of winters. A good majority are extreme in cool temperatures and deep snowfall. It can be difficult to find a work force willing and able to tap in these conditions. With the advent of spouts that help prevent premature hole closure, we have found very little if any drop off in sap yields when tapping early. We can see this because we have multiple collection stations and each one of those sections were tapped at different times some by as much as a month apart. In fact the cooler parts of the bush will often times be still producing when the warmer (later tapped) regions have petered out. We do use every precaution within reason to keep the spouts clean. We like to tap in cooler conditions because the sharp drill bit cuts very well in those conditions, and your gloves and taps will stay drier. Maybe the most important factor is our cool northerly location. Our sugarbush borders Minnesotas (and possibly the United States' most northerly sugar maple range). This helps prevent premature sap flow from occurring, thus allowing the tap holes to stay prestine pretty much right up until good sap flow begins.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Knapp, Wis
    Posts
    1,866

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    So roughly when do your seasons end up there? I can't imagine it being much more than a week or so after we are finished down here around Minneapolis?
    Mark

    Where we made syrup long before the trendies made it popular, now its just another commodity.

    John Deere 4000, 830, and 420 crawler
    1400 taps, 600 gph CDL RO, 4x12 wood-fired Leader, forced air and preheater. 400 gallon Sap-O-Matic vacuum gathering tank, PTO powered. 2500 gallon X truck tank, 17 bulk tanks.
    No cage tanks allowed on this farm!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Lutsen, Mn
    Posts
    21

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    Mark, I've collected some data from 2008 to 2013. They include tapping date and boiling date data. You may notice a shorter tapping period in 2008, this reflects a much larger tapping crew of 7 people. In 2009 I tapped 15,000 trees by myself (not recommended) thus the longer tapping period. After that season we realized that early tapping did not shorten our season thus we tapped with 3 individuals from that period on. I hope you find some of the information interesting as compared to your own locality. Here is the data.

    Year Start tap End tap First boil Last boil Total sap days
    2008 3-1 3-9 4-2 5-8 36
    2009 2-1 3-8 3-18 5-6 49
    2010 1-20 2-26 3-8 4-12 25
    2011. 1-22 2-23 3-19 5-5 47
    2012 1-20 2-19 3-13 4-18 36
    2013 1-27 2-21 3-30 5-9 40

    As you can see, sap flow can start up here quite early. One year we boiled on February 18. We were not ready and lost some sap. We shoot for a March 1st start. By finishing tapping early it gives us time to fix any problems in the bush found while tapping. It is much easier to fix them on good solid snow conditions rather than after a warmup when the deep snow becomes nearly impossible to travel over.

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