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Thread: Sugar content - Eastern KY

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Kentucky
    Posts
    35

    Default Sugar content - Eastern KY

    Last year was my first year using gravity lines on the mountain side I own. I tapped around 40 maples. I kept up with the sap, using a small RO system.

    One of the discouraging parts for myself was the low sugar content. I was probably getting around .8 - .9% sugar content. Without my RO bucket, I would have been in a mess. Never the less, getting a gallon of syrup from 90-100 gallons of sap is a lot of work for a hobbyist. I suspect the poor sugar content relates to the denseness of the woods and the competition the trees have. I have a couple maple trees in my front yard, and they average around 1.5 - 2% sugar content, but they are pretty much all by themselves.

    Anyone else experienced similar sugar content? Should I expect the same sugar content from these trees in my wood each year?

    Thanks,
    Gabriel

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    10,325

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    The more dense a woods are, the lower the sugar %.
    Sugar is made by the leaves, thin the woods and the % will rise.
    That being said, the sap sugar % varies by the season and even by the day. 2 years ago we had our lowest sugar % ever, (it averaged 1.2%) last year we averaged just over 2%. Since no thinning had been, the difference was the previous year's weather, it had been very rainy the season before 2018 for much of the summer, for the 2019 season it started quite rainy be then dried out with lots of sun.
    You will get your best sap sugar % when you have good crowns and a good balance of rain and sun. While you can't change the weather, you can remove some of the trees competing for the sun. A word of caution, do not cut too mny at once. If a tree had lots of competition and you remove the competition, the tree left may have sun and wind damage. You are best off opening just 1 side, then wait 2-3 years before you open up another side. That gives the remaining tree time to fill in some of the open space at the canopy and also strengthen to hold up against the extra wind.
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, doing fewer each year, about 450 planned for 2020 (and after?)
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/albums/...anssugarhouse/
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    west virginia
    Posts
    738

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    Our sugar content has been down last 3 season, one of the ideas floated by Dr. Mike Rechlin, we are not getting good freezes during the season, the tree is not releasing all the sugar that it should? I believe this season will be better due to near drought conditions this past summer? I base this on the Summer of 2002, very dry until October heavy rains and snows came during the Spring of 2003, the Valentine weekend snow was over 30 inches and we had snows before that, from my records it only required 33 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. Hoping 2020 will repeat that 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/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Albion PA
    Posts
    4,894

    Default

    Keep Boiling!
    Regards,
    Chris
    Casbohm Maple and Honey
    600 roadside taps
    3x10 King, WRU, AOF and AUF
    12" SIRO Filter Press.
    2015 Ford F250 PSD sap hauler
    One Golden named Maggie Cat named Lucy
    Too many Cub Cadets
    Ford Jubilee and several Allis WD's, and IH tractors

    www.mapleandhoney.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Southern Ohio
    Posts
    952

    Default

    I'm in southern Ohio and my sugar content has been all over the map. I've thinned over 10 years and managed what I could and it still swings up and down. I think those of us on the southern boundaries of Maple country are just stuck with the up and down swings. Like sugarmaker said, just keep boiling.
    100 -110 taps
    Smokey Lakes Full pint Hybrid pan
    Modified half pint arch
    Air over fire
    All 3/16 tubing
    Southern Ohio

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Oneida NY
    Posts
    10,325

    Default

    It will swing up and down regardless, but if thinned properly, the seasonal average will be higher than if it had not been thinned. Thinning generally takes a few years to really show, because the trees need time to fill in the open spaces created by the thinning. Leaves make the sugar!
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, doing fewer each year, about 450 planned for 2020 (and after?)
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/albums/...anssugarhouse/
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Temperance Mi
    Posts
    352

    Default

    I'm a firm believer in what 220 maple stated about a dry summer followed by moisture in the fall and spring leading to higher sugar content. Thinning really helps your sugar too. We used to buy sap from a non thinned woods a mile away and our home bush was usually around a .5 PT higher. Same size dia. Trees just not the same canopy.
    Last edited by Ed R; 12-18-2019 at 08:51 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
    Posts
    4,898

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    Dry summers are associated (correlated with) lower sap sugar content. Wet falls and springs are associated with high sap sugar content. End result of the combination = ?
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Temperance Mi
    Posts
    352

    Default

    The Midwest should have a +3% year this spring then. The amount of water we have had so far this year has been incredible
    Last edited by Ed R; 12-18-2019 at 10:47 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Temperance Mi
    Posts
    352

    Default

    Just wondering 220 maple how your sap sugar levels were this spring following your dry summer? As I assumed in December, my sugar was really low this year (1 average) after a dreary, overcast, wet summer (There were a couple of weeks I don't remember the sun shining). I don't think it's the rain that leads to lower sugar levels, just the lack of sunlight. From what I have read sugar levels were down this year. Just my anecdotal observations from many years in the syrup woods.

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