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Thread: Why is the brix so low?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Mount Vernon Maine
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    Default Why is the brix so low?

    I dropped in an observation tap today on a 12+ " sugar maple that I have tapped twice before, just to see what might be going on. Tapped at noon and I had 3 pints by 4:30. I brought it into the house to check the sugar content. I put it on the refractometer expecting to see 3 or more, as I remember this tree providing, and I got............1.4. Needless to say I was a bit underimpressed. The refractometer was checked. It should have been at least 2.5 as all my sugars are at this or above.

    My question is: does the sugar content start out low as a tree thaws and starts to flow, or does it start high from the get go? This low number has me concerned. What to do??
    2x4 concrete block arch with three steam trays
    Separate warming stove/steam tray
    2016 12 taps, 3 gallons
    2018 15 taps, 7 gallons
    2019 38 taps, 13.6 gallons
    2020 40 taps, 13.7 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  2. #2
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    Oneida NY
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    The more freeze thaw cycles the higher it will get, until late in the season.
    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
    Feb 2006
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    Skowhegan, Maine
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    It seems to start out watery. It seems like the maple season is starting! We were planning on tapping around the 15th of February, but it seems like it's starting earlier according to the forecast for the next few weeks!
    325 taps
    2x6 Phaneuf
    Illegitimati non carborundum

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISbkO-NKA9o

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Mount Vernon Maine
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    Thanks for your input. Here's another question. Does the sugar content, or can the sugar content, of a tree vary from year to year? This tree in question put out a gallon over the past few days, but still 1.5%.
    2x4 concrete block arch with three steam trays
    Separate warming stove/steam tray
    2016 12 taps, 3 gallons
    2018 15 taps, 7 gallons
    2019 38 taps, 13.6 gallons
    2020 40 taps, 13.7 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  5. #5
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    Feb 2011
    Location
    Temperance Mi
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    353

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    There can be changes year to year in the sap sugar concentrations in an individual tree, group of trees, a whole woods, or even the state of Maine. Many are due to the weather, the amount of rainfall and sunlight and the timing of it the previous year/s. Another big factor is what went on the previous year reproductively with the tree/s, did they seed up heavily. Over all tree health or stress is another factor, were there any insect issues ?
    Last edited by Ed R; 02-05-2020 at 07:00 AM.

  6. #6
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    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mvhomesteader View Post
    Does the sugar content, or can the sugar content, of a tree vary from year to year?
    Yes, sometimes considerably so. However in relation to its neighbors, a tree will retain its relative sap sugar content (SSC) rank. So a tree that is the lowest of the group will tend to be the lowest every day (or week or year), while a tree in the middle stays in the middle of the pack, and a high SSC tree tends to be high all the time. Because SSC is dynamic, it is important when you do these comparisons to measure SSC at as close to the same time as possible. You can't compare the SSC taken on a tree one day with a measurement on another tree taken the next week (or year, etc) except in very general terms.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  7. #7
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    Jan 2011
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    Southern Ohio
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    Back when I done buckets I checked every tree and noted the strong and weak producers. with lines I don't know unless I run a tap to a bucket.

    I've had some of those chronically low sugar trees and I just can't help but tap them when the line goes right by. So when I sold some timber and I had to take down lines for access, guess what, those low sugar trees had a blue mark on them. Their neighbor then got more light to produce sugar from. It was funny my timber cutter came and asked if it was a mistake.....I had always told him he'd get docked for any maple tree he damaged. So those are candidates for thinning in my woods.
    Last edited by buckeye gold; 02-05-2020 at 08:36 AM.
    100 -110 taps
    Smokey Lakes Full pint Hybrid pan
    Modified half pint arch
    Air over fire
    All 3/16 tubing
    Southern Ohio

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Noblesville Indiana
    Posts
    12

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    I see mention of using a refractometer for measuring sugar content in sap. My nephew has a refractometer that he uses to check the sugar content of grapes before he harvests for wine making. Can this same refractometer be used to check my sap content or are sap and wine refractometers calibrated differently? I just purchased an RO bucket and I would like to measure the sugar content before and after processing.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoblesvilleIN View Post
    I see mention of using a refractometer for measuring sugar content in sap. My nephew has a refractometer that he uses to check the sugar content of grapes before he harvests for wine making. Can this same refractometer be used to check my sap content or are sap and wine refractometers calibrated differently? I just purchased an RO bucket and I would like to measure the sugar content before and after processing.
    Yes, I believe it can. We use ours for testing fruit and vegetable sweetness (an indicator of product health).
    2x4 concrete block arch with three steam trays
    Separate warming stove/steam tray
    2016 12 taps, 3 gallons
    2018 15 taps, 7 gallons
    2019 38 taps, 13.6 gallons
    2020 40 taps, 13.7 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
    Posts
    102

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DrTimPerkins View Post
    Yes, sometimes considerably so. However in relation to its neighbors, a tree will retain its relative sap sugar content (SSC) rank. So a tree that is the lowest of the group will tend to be the lowest every day (or week or year), while a tree in the middle stays in the middle of the pack, and a high SSC tree tends to be high all the time. Because SSC is dynamic, it is important when you do these comparisons to measure SSC at as close to the same time as possible. You can't compare the SSC taken on a tree one day with a measurement on another tree taken the next week (or year, etc) except in very general terms.
    Thanks to all for the input. I'll be tapping out this weekend so by what I see as a small run early next week I'll be able to make some judgements as to what is occurring in nearby trees at the same moment in time. I won't make any predictions or get worried till I get some more data.
    2x4 concrete block arch with three steam trays
    Separate warming stove/steam tray
    2016 12 taps, 3 gallons
    2018 15 taps, 7 gallons
    2019 38 taps, 13.6 gallons
    2020 40 taps, 13.7 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

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