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Thread: Maple Syrup in Preston County at the Heasley Homestead

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Bruceton Mills, WV
    Posts
    63

    Default Maple Syrup in Preston County at the Heasley Homestead

    I have been reading all of the posts from West Virginia with great interest this year, but felt too busy (or too new) to post my activities.

    But now that the season may be over, I have some time to provide a summary.

    My initial goal this past summer was to stop using propane to boil the syrup and switch to a wood (that I cut myself) fired evaporator to be more cost efficient. As, I started looking at upsizing the syrup production, it kind of snowballed. Originally, I figured I would keep using gallon jugs that had worked well for me in the past, and slowly expand the number of trees that I tap. But then, I read a lot of great things about the 3/16 tubing natural gravity. I liked the idea of the “natural” (no motors or electricity), and my property (50 acres in Bruceton Mills) has some good gradient around my maple trees. Once you go to tubing, then you need to collect in larger containers, and once you use larger container, you might as well fill them to be efficient. Also, I read about reverse osmosis and this seemed to be a very efficient way to initially process the sap and minimize my wood cutting. Well, with even a small commercial RO machine, you need a minimum of a couple hundred gallons of sap to run the machine.

    Well, to make a long story short,
    I now have (in two stalls of my 3 car garage):
    A 2 X 6 Next Generation Maple Products (NGMP) evaporator with a 2 X 6 divide flat pan (originally, I was try to save a little money with an inexpensive pan)
    A Deer Run Sugar Bush (Ray Gingerich) 125 GPH expandable reverse osmosis machine
    A bunch of IBC totes, barrels, pumps, hoses, tubing, propane stoves, pots, pans, filters, etc.

    I ended up with 258 taps on 3/16 and 71 on jugs. This is all a mixture of Red and Sugar Maples. Some are open field, but most are in dense woods.

    As of today (3/12/16) I have collected about 6,150 gallons sap and processed it into approximately 70 gallons of syrup (not finished bottling yet). (A few times I overflowed and lost some sap.) For season totals, I collected 6.7 gal/tap on my 71 jugs, 15.7 gal/tap on my (21 taps) with 10-15 ft. drop natural vacuum, and an average of 22.6 gal/tap on the (237 taps) full natural vacuum, for an overall average of 18.7 gal/tap. One collection tote with 54 taps averaged 25.8 gallons per tap. As you can see, my sugar content has been pretty low. Somedays I thought that the 3/16 vacuum was working so good that it was sucking water from the ground up through the tree.

    I had 4 runs: 2/7-8/16 with 600 gallons (rights as I installed taps), 2/18-25/16 with 2000 gallons, 2/28-3/1/16 with 1460 gallons, and 3/6-9/16 with 2100 gallons. My used RO was working sub-par and I was always waiting on it, so mid season I obtained a new MES membrane which improved throughput by at least 300%. Still, I felt I could use a faster RO, so for next year, I am planning on upgrading to the 250 gph capacity. (Did I say that I say that I was maintaining a 50 hr per week job at the same time I was trying to haul, RO, and boil the sap each day?)

    Also, I was hauling sap with a tank on the front and back of my tractor, about 100 gallons functional total capacity. This worked well enough, but took about 45 minutes round trip and really tore-up the trails in the woods. I am considering some type of pumping system next year, but I am about 1500 ft horizontally and 125 ft vertically above my collection points, and I have a road in-between.

    It has been a rewarding year.

    Keith

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    BECKLEY, WV (SUGARHOUSE DAWSON, WV)
    Posts
    6,654

    Default

    Great job this year Keith and especially from going to a small backyard setup to a RO and small evaporator. Really glad the 3/16 performed very well for you.
    Brandon

    CDL dealer for All of West Virginia & Virginia
    3x10 CDL Deluxe oil fired
    Kubota M7040 4x4 Tractor w/ 1153 Loader hauling sap
    2,400+ taps on 3/16 CDL natural vacuum on 9 properties
    24x56 sugarhouse
    CDL 1,000 2 post RO


    WEBSITE: http://danielsmaple.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Bruceton Mills, WV
    Posts
    63

    Default

    Well the season is wrapping up.

    I was rinsing tubing and cleaning everything this past weekend.

    I tapped on February 5th, pulled my 225 red maple taps on March 5th, after the warm weeks. I re-drilled the 225 Sugar Maples from 1.5" to 2.25" after the cold week on 3/10-18/17 and made another 20 gallons of syrup from just the Sugar Maples.
    I added another 100 Red Maple taps on 3/16 tubing this year, to bring my tap count up to 450. Also, I upgraded my pans from a flat 2x6 to a 2x2 syrup pan and 2x4 drop flue pan. I upgraded the RO from one 4x40 to two 4x40 membranes. I also added a 7" short bank filter press and a 15 gallon water-jacketed bottler. With the new equipment, I could finish the sap every day in 6-8 hours. With the filter press, the final syrup is always very nice and clear.

    Overall, I had 6 good runs. several days I had 800+ gallons in the early season.
    Last year I hauled 6300 gallons of sap and made 75 gallons of syrup. This year I hauled 9300 gallons of sap and made 87 gallons of syrup (about 0.2 gallons of syrup per tap).

    (Somedays, I am afraid that I will put the hydrometer in the sap and it will sink. But, you have to love the RO, since I only boiled 10+% concentrate.)

    The 3/16" tubing worked well. The new lines pulled 25 gallons of sap per tap, and overall, I averaged 22 gallons a tap on the tubing.

    That was the semi-depressing production statistics, but on the other hand.

    This was our first Open House for WV Maple Day, and I did not know if we were going to get 2 or 200 people, especially with cold rainy weather.

    Wow, what a turn out. From 9 am to 5 pm Saturday and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday, we had at least 1 or 2 groups and sometimes 4 to 6 groups at the house on the tour. Both the 4H and Girls Scouts showed up. We had 100+ visitors a day and considering that the weather was cold and rainy, that was great. My wife and I did not even get any time to eat lunch. We had a scavenger hunt for the kids (with a maple candy reward). We had coffee and hot chocolate, and samples of maple candy, maple walnuts, taste tests of the different color grades. We had samples of maple cookies, maple cinnamon rolls and maple bacon little smokies (you have to love bacon and maple sugar). We sold about a third of our production that weekend.

    We already have ideas on how to improve the open house for next year.

    Keith

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Bruceton Mills, WV
    Posts
    63

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    Well, another season is wrapping up. I have enjoyed reading all of the post on the West Virginia site by canaanmaple, lilshot and 220 mapler, and following their season this year. I always plan to put in my own posts, but when the season starts, I always get too busy.

    Anyhow, at least I can summarize my season at the end. If there is one adjective that can be used to describe this season, it is: “overwhelming”. I more than doubled my tap count (from 680 to 1,430), and then, with the great weather this spring in Preston County, I increased my production 360% (from 131 gallons last year to 475 gallons this year)! This, of course, resulted in many long hours of pumping, boiling and bottling the increase in syrup, but what a great syrup year.

    Expansion:
    Late last year, I obtained permission to expand one lease (175 more taps on Mike Cole’s property) and to initiate another large lease (575 taps on Phyllis and Greg Thomas’s property). This resulted in the addition of 750 taps to my previous 680, along with an additional 700 ft of mainline, 1600 ft of pump line and 4 miles of 3/16” tubing. Of course the pump line had to be cut through some of the densest brush on my property, and the hillside for the tubing had an elevation change of 140 ft at a 15% grade. And even with being retired, this expansion was still being rushed to be completed by the beginning of the tapping season.

    Production:
    Half of my taps were installed on Sunday, February 3rd and then the other half were installed the following weekend, February 9th and 10th. My last boil was on Thursday, March 28th and the taps were pulled by the following weekend, a very productive 8-week season. I had 5 major runs this season, with the last one being 2.5 weeks long. I boiled 22 nights and made a total of 475 gallons of syrup, or an average of 22 gallons for an average 5-hour boil. The initial syrup graded just a little bit darker than amber and continued to gradually darken throughout the season, with the last 100 gallons grading as very dark.

    In total, I collected 48,500 gallons of sap for an average of 34 gallons per tap. Further, with the production of 475 gallons of syrup, the season averaged 0.33 gallons per tap. This sap production per tap is 77% greater and the syrup production per tap is 66% greater than my average for the last few years, and is mostly due to the great weather with some contribution from all of the new tubing. Also, my new 3/16” lines with the 5/16” drops seemed to run harder and longer than those with 3/16” drops. Unfortunately, my trees continue to be diabetic with a final ratio of 102 gallon of sap to 1 gallon of syrup (I love my RO).

    Keith
    2018: 684 taps: 525-3/16" Gr.,159-3/16" Hybrid; Mountain Maple Super Sap Sucker, CDL 600 RO - 131 gal.; retired from WVU in May
    2017: 439 Taps - 3/16" Gravity, Goulds 18GBS15, CDL 2X6 Drop Flue, Wes Fab 7" SB Filter Press, Smokey Lake WJ Bottler - 90 gal.
    2016: 258 Taps - 3/16" Gravity, Honda WX15, NGMP 2X6 Flat Pan, Deer Run 125 RO - 68 gal.
    2015: 20 Taps - Jugs, Turkey Fryer and 2-Burner Stove - 2.5 gal.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    WV
    Posts
    74

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVKeith View Post
    Well, another season is wrapping up. I have enjoyed reading all of the post on the West Virginia site by canaanmaple, lilshot and 220 mapler, and following their season this year. I always plan to put in my own posts, but when the season starts, I always get too busy.

    Anyhow, at least I can summarize my season at the end. If there is one adjective that can be used to describe this season, it is: “overwhelming”. I more than doubled my tap count (from 680 to 1,430), and then, with the great weather this spring in Preston County, I increased my production 360% (from 131 gallons last year to 475 gallons this year)! This, of course, resulted in many long hours of pumping, boiling and bottling the increase in syrup, but what a great syrup year.

    Expansion:
    Late last year, I obtained permission to expand one lease (175 more taps on Mike Cole’s property) and to initiate another large lease (575 taps on Phyllis and Greg Thomas’s property). This resulted in the addition of 750 taps to my previous 680, along with an additional 700 ft of mainline, 1600 ft of pump line and 4 miles of 3/16” tubing. Of course the pump line had to be cut through some of the densest brush on my property, and the hillside for the tubing had an elevation change of 140 ft at a 15% grade. And even with being retired, this expansion was still being rushed to be completed by the beginning of the tapping season.

    Production:
    Half of my taps were installed on Sunday, February 3rd and then the other half were installed the following weekend, February 9th and 10th. My last boil was on Thursday, March 28th and the taps were pulled by the following weekend, a very productive 8-week season. I had 5 major runs this season, with the last one being 2.5 weeks long. I boiled 22 nights and made a total of 475 gallons of syrup, or an average of 22 gallons for an average 5-hour boil. The initial syrup graded just a little bit darker than amber and continued to gradually darken throughout the season, with the last 100 gallons grading as very dark.

    In total, I collected 48,500 gallons of sap for an average of 34 gallons per tap. Further, with the production of 475 gallons of syrup, the season averaged 0.33 gallons per tap. This sap production per tap is 77% greater and the syrup production per tap is 66% greater than my average for the last few years, and is mostly due to the great weather with some contribution from all of the new tubing. Also, my new 3/16” lines with the 5/16” drops seemed to run harder and longer than those with 3/16” drops. Unfortunately, my trees continue to be diabetic with a final ratio of 102 gallon of sap to 1 gallon of syrup (I love my RO).

    Keith
    Wow great breakdown and record keeping and results! Crazy long season, and the night temps even up to today have still been ideal for sap flow! I called it quits after second week of march because the syrup started getting that slight buddy flavor, so it's been painful to see these perfect flow temps continue!

    Saw you on the news last week too. Lookin good! here is the link:

    https://www.wboy.com/weather/sunshine-makes-the-sweet-stuff/1877969806

    Cleanup time

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    west virginia
    Posts
    726

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    Dropped in on the gang at Spruce Knob Maple Tuesday they have 101 barrels, jugged enough to account for two more barrels, was hoping they could make it thru today Friday. Landlord was there also, he said he has produced syrup up to April the 12th before, Always had made syrup in April, they tapped the third week of Jan., I was sort of humored that some the people that looked at leasing the camp was concerned about the weather, the one brother I talked to of the Seven that leased it felt that the trees at 4300 foot elevation may not have run very good, just to cold at that elevation, said they need to investigate that area next week. Their goal is to get to 20000 taps next year.

    Mark 220 Maple
    1100 taps on low vaccum, 900 on gravity.
    900 plus taps leased and on high vacuum
    35 cfm Indiana Liquid Ring Vacuum Pump
    80% Sugar, 20% Red MAPLES
    http://s247.photobucket.com/albums/g...Maple%20Syrup/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    WV
    Posts
    74

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    Quote Originally Posted by 220 maple View Post
    the one brother I talked to of the Seven that leased it felt that the trees at 4300 foot elevation may not have run very good, just to cold at that elevation, said they need to investigate that area next week. Their goal is to get to 20000 taps next year.

    Mark 220 Maple
    I can tell you that the tree line around 4000' and above in canaan valley is *still* brown as of today, so I can see those trees just not running till everything else below is done, so probably not worth tapping unless they can have mainlines separated by elevation? Most trees below that just got their leaves in the past week or so, and *finally* got a few spears of asparagus popping up and had to mow for the first time last weekend. So despite having a very early start to the maple season, and one of the warmest average temperature during the feb-april period on record, the growing season has still taken it's time like normal years. I am still a little bummed that the syrup turned buddy on me the second week of March, yet it took till May for the trees to get their leaves!

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