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Thread: How many trees is too many?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    290

    Default How many trees is too many?

    I guess having too many trees is a good problem to have, but biting off more than you can handle could be a bad thing.

    This will be my rookie year and an argument can be made for starting off with just a few trees and learning what to do and when, and another argument can be made that the more opportunities to boil and finish, the more you can learn.

    There are also other factors that come into play that will be different, for different people.

    The more trees you tackle, the greater the time required, the greater the effort, the greater the cost, the greater the amount of wood you will need and if you are not selling it, how much syrup do you really need.

    For me time isn’t a restraint, I am retired and my Sugar Bush (for the moment) is right out my back door. It will put a crimp in my end of the year ice fishing though. (Which is right outside the other door)

    I like working hard, so the effort won’t be a factor, unless I go really crazy.

    Now my two constraints are cost and firewood. According to my wife, I have already exceeded my budget, but buying more pails/lids and spouts are still okay as I can get them half price from another syrup maker. There is still the cost of the jars and bottles, but that is 6 months from now, so that should be okay. (Now when I go to buy the $500, 2x4 pan with a ball valve and temperature gauge next year, that is where the discussions will start.)

    Fire wood is gold for me. I heat my house 95%+ with wood. I need 15 face cords each year and I always find a way to scrounge it. Now that we have an ice hut, I have to scrounge at least another face cord. Now for the evaporator, I built a wood rack that holds 2.5 face cords. That was good for when I was tapping 16 to 21 trees. I am up to 32 taps now and will be over 40 next week and could be over 50 the week after, if I want them.

    I made myself a table on excel, of how much wood I would need, depending on the number of taps I had. I based it on getting a litre(US quart) a tree and made two tables one with a cinder block efficiency of 10 US gallons made, per one full cord and the other 12 US gallons made, per full cord.

    Going with an efficiency of 10 gallons per full cord, I could tap 30 trees with the wood I currently have stacked. I would need another 1.5 face cords to tap up to 49 trees.

    With an efficiency of 12 US gallons per full cord, I could have 38 taps with the wood already stacked and I would need an additional .75 of a face cord to have enough wood to do 49 trees. So how much seasoned wood I have stacked before the snow flies will be definitely be a determining factor in how many trees I tap.

    Now the big question, as a backyarder and not a seller, is how much syrup do I really need. I would like to give my two adult kids 4 litres (1 US gallon) each. I have 7 neighbours that I would give a total of 8 litres (2 US gallons) and if I use other properties, that could cost me another 4 litres (1 US gallon). Now there is 7 siblings and 3 people who shared their syrup with us, that I would give 500 ml to, so that is another 5 litres (1.25 US gallons). I would like 8 litres (2 US gallons) for ourselves.

    That adds up to 38 litres, or almost 10 US gallons. That would mean 38 taps required, if all went right. There will be inefficiencies and bad years, so doing up to 49 trees would not be out of the question. I better get cutting and splitting. I can rob my house seasoned firewood for this year, but would have to have the replacement wood already split and stacked in another location.

    All of my friends here, would laugh at me for this post, as they would say I am way over thinking it.

    DBA9EC73-43F4-4FC3-BA33-6A8DFC09C166.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Location
    Corbeil, ON
    Posts
    61

    Default

    It would be surprising how much syrup you need. I barely used syrup before starting my operation. Yesterday I finished off the last of my syrup. I only managed to make 4.7l this year but 4 months later it's all gone.
    2021 - Year one. 15 taps using 5/16" and drop tube into buckets. Homemade barrel evaporator with 2 steam trays. 4.7L syrup.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Northern Michigan
    Posts
    451

    Default

    Swingpure,
    You must have been an accountant or auditor, with all those calculations you have made. My wife and I were both auditors before we retired and it makes it difficult to "sneak" anything by either of us when it comes to spending money. Now with that said, I am fortunate that my wife agreed with my "hobby" of making syrup. I don't think either of us ever expected it to get to the level it has gotten to when we started. We also use wood to supply most of the heat in our house and use 15 face cords for that purpose. Since we stock 2 years worth of wood ahead each year, wood wasn't an issue, but I had no idea of how much time it would take to boil down sap on a 2' by 4' evaporator. Our first year we tapped 130 trees and I found myself swimming in sap. So much so, that after 5 days of collecting, I told my wife to remove the containers from the trees because I had so much sap to boil.

    Our first year we produced 5 gallons of syrup. We kept 3 gallons for ourselves and gave a pint to each family member, with the request that they tell us how they liked it. Only 3 family members responded to our request, so they are now the only people that we give syrup to each year. Since that first year we have spent thousands and thousands of dollars expanding and upgrading our equipment and buildings and now produce about 100 gallons of syrup a year. We both look forward to each syrup season and have no regrets.
    Gary
    Last edited by MISugarDaddy; 09-01-2021 at 06:11 AM.
    16' X 24' Sugarhouse
    2' X 6' Leader Inferno Arch with Revolution Raised-Flue Pans, Smoky Lake preheater and hood
    Deer Run Maple gas-powered 250 RO
    WesFab 7" filter press
    Kubota 1100 RTV with tracks and 125 gallon tank for transporting sap
    600+ taps on gravity and vacuum
    Very supportive wife who is the best coworker
    http://mapletrader.com/community/sho...ing-Sugarhouse

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    290

    Default

    Today I marked 10 new taps on the property just north of me and 21 new taps on a property, a 10 minute ATV ride away. That totals 64 taps counting the ones I identified before. That is too many, time wise for me to gather the sap and do all of the other things. I will likely eliminate at least 10 taps when the time comes, as I determine they are too difficult to get to. I am also going to run two 5 tap lines to help reduce the time to collect the sap. I may do some others as well. Doing 64 trees would almost double the wood I originally required. I will try to get more over the next couple of weeks to close the gap of wood I have, versus what I need. Tapping 50 trees would be a good target. Now to learn how to run lines.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Murrysville, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    178

    Default

    There is lots of great information on how to hang tubing on this site. Keep it tight and downhill and use hollow woven rope over the tubing towards the end to keep it taut. A tubing tool is key for new line installation. It helps you cut in your drops, holds the line for you, and presses your fittings in beautifully.

    Here is a little video we did this past season when hanging our 3/16th tubing - it covers the basics:

    https://youtu.be/FYQFpBrbSd4
    D. Roseum
    www.roseummaple.com
    ~100 taps on 3/16 custom temp controlled vacuum; custom nat gas evap with temp and level controllers; homemade RO; SL SS filter press
    2021: 27.1 gallons

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    290

    Default

    Great video, it helped me understand what to do. Is there any advantage of doing 3/16 vs 5/16” tubing and spiles? I will be doing 5/16 spiles for my tree hung 2 gallon buckets and for my drop lines into 5 gallon buckets.

    I understand that the drop line has to be taunt, with a good slope on it, but can it zig zag a little to catch some trees, not dead in line?

    I will not have a vacuum suction pump, do I need a raised line at the start to put pressure on the sap to run down hill? ( I know there is a term for the raised line, but it escapes me)

    Thank you

    Gary

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Murrysville, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    178

    Default

    Zig-zagging is fine, but don't go overboard. Too much zig-zagging uses more tubing and reduces the vertical drop per linear foot which reduces efficiency of the line (friction). If you have very wide zip zag paths perhaps consider running 2 lines to minimize that.

    3/16 is used when you have fairly large elevation drops and can induce natural vacuum on the tree taps. The size is optimized between friction losses and not allowing air bubbles pass and the sap itself acts as a piston in a cylinder, pulling a vacuum behind it and drawing out more sap. You want about 15 trees per line if using 3/16 and about 25-30 feet of total elevation drop with about 10 feet of drop at the end to maximize the benefits of 3/16.

    5/16 works well for everything else.

    No need to elevate your line above you highest tap. Just get it as high as you can on that tree. Use a line end hook fitting that let's you wrap the tubing around the tree and cinch it tight. The end hooks have a fitting for a drop line/tap as well.
    D. Roseum
    www.roseummaple.com
    ~100 taps on 3/16 custom temp controlled vacuum; custom nat gas evap with temp and level controllers; homemade RO; SL SS filter press
    2021: 27.1 gallons

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Murrysville, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    178

    Default

    Also - 50 to 60 trees is going to keep you very busy on a 4 or 5 steam pan block arch. General rule of thumb is about 1 gallon per hour of evaporation per square foot of pan. Assuming excellent efficiency that might put you in the 8 - 10 gph evaporation range. On a decent run you will get 2 gallons per tap. Average day will be more like 0.5 - 1 gallon per tap. So low end would be 25 gallons per day, resulting in 4+ hr boil. On a big day, you could have 120 gallons, resulting in a 15 hr boil.

    Have you considered building a small Reverse Osmosis (RO) unit to cut your boiling time and wood usage in half or even more?

    Its the absolute best thing I did. It let's me tap way more trees, use way less fuel and get it done way faster. There is tons of info on this site about how to build a small scale DIY unit. They are reasonably priced when you do it yourself.

    I'd be glad to give you some recommendations on this as well. I have built 2 of these. One used the biggest aquatec pump and the 2nd used the biggest coronwater pump (even high flowrate). I moved up from 36 trees to 100 when I made that change.

    RO basics: https://youtu.be/s106bSrcfno
    2nd unit I built: https://youtu.be/9_Eq_sq6Tp0
    D. Roseum
    www.roseummaple.com
    ~100 taps on 3/16 custom temp controlled vacuum; custom nat gas evap with temp and level controllers; homemade RO; SL SS filter press
    2021: 27.1 gallons

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    290

    Default

    Once again great videos and thanks for the information and advice.

    I priced out the parts in Canada and I can darn near purchased a CDL already made, RO unit for the same money. I do see getting whatever RO unit in the future, but for this being my first year and still seeing how hooked I will get, and also with already a fair outlay of cash getting set up with my evaporator, portable sugar shed and all of the buckets, lids, spiles, and other equipment, I will save the cost of the RO unit for next year.

    I do 100% realize it would make things easier this year and would solve my wood problem. I also appreciate I have a lot of boil hours ahead of me. If I find of way of affording it before the spring I will get one. It would allow me to tap all 64 trees.

    Thanks again for your advice and time. I go visit CDL on Wednesday and will get more stuff. I also pick up my bottling kettle on Wednesday, a large funnel and an 8 gallon stainless steel pot to hold partially boiled sap, that I did not complete on the long boiled days.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2021
    Location
    Parry Sound Area, Ontario
    Posts
    290

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DRoseum View Post
    Zig-zagging is fine, but don't go overboard. Too much zig-zagging uses more tubing and reduces the vertical drop per linear foot which reduces efficiency of the line (friction). If you have very wide zip zag paths perhaps consider running 2 lines to minimize that.

    3/16 is used when you have fairly large elevation drops and can induce natural vacuum on the tree taps. The size is optimized between friction losses and not allowing air bubbles pass and the sap itself acts as a piston in a cylinder, pulling a vacuum behind it and drawing out more sap. You want about 15 trees per line if using 3/16 and about 25-30 feet of total elevation drop with about 10 feet of drop at the end to maximize the benefits of 3/16.

    5/16 works well for everything else.

    No need to elevate your line above you highest tap. Just get it as high as you can on that tree. Use a line end hook fitting that let's you wrap the tubing around the tree and cinch it tight. The end hooks have a fitting for a drop line/tap as well.
    I have a steep slope where I am doing most of the tapping on my property, as you can see by my driveway in the attached picture. Looking at it, it makes sense for me to do: Two, seven tap lines, one six tap line and one four tap line. Is that kosher? It would reduce 24 pick up locations to four. I would have a 5 gallon pail at the receiving end of the lines.

    I am leaning towards 5/16 line and will chat with the CDL guy about it Wednesday.

    If you have tree 2 about three feet off line of a stretched line between trees 1 and 3, could you run a three foot drop line to the line running between 1 and 3, or do you have to run the line to tree 2?

    I have seen two tools used when they were running lines. One was a too, that was simply for cutting the line. The other tool held the line, cut it, and squeezed the two ends of the line onto a fitting. Are any, or both essential?

    5CC5E623-C736-45FA-A244-D77C1EA5D066.jpg
    Last edited by Swingpure; 09-06-2021 at 06:14 PM.

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