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Thread: measuring sugar content

  1. #1
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    Default measuring sugar content

    what's an economical tool to use for measuring sugar content in sap? I've heard of a refractometer but don't know much about their use or how expensive they are, thanks all
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  2. #2
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    Best way to go is a hydrometer calibrated for sap. It's the same as testing for syrup but measures in the 0 ~ 12 brix range for about $20.
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  3. #3
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    The cheapest way is a short hydrometer. cost you about 10-11 bucks.
    However I'd spend the extra 10 and go witha long stem as it will be easier to read.
    Keith

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodsmith View Post
    what's an economical tool to use for measuring sugar content in sap? I've heard of a refractometer but don't know much about their use or how expensive they are, thanks all
    How are you going to be using it? Are you planning to test the sugar content of the sap in your tank (hydrometer would work well), or do you want to test the sap sugar content of individual trees for thinning purposes (refractometer--handheld or digital).
    Dr. Tim Perkins
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    I'm thinking of testing individual trees. I currently have mostly soft maples and a friend has offered to let me tap his land loaded with sugar maples so I want to keep some records of which of my trees has the best sugar content so I can ignore those with less sugar.
    the only thing a sugarmaker likes more than boiling is talking about boiling!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodsmith View Post
    I'm thinking of testing individual trees. I currently have mostly soft maples and a friend has offered to let me tap his land loaded with sugar maples so I want to keep some records of which of my trees has the best sugar content so I can ignore those with less sugar.
    A decent hand-held brix (% sugar) refractometer on the low end of the scale (0-10 Brix) is your best bet then. Basic choice you need to make is optical or digital. Optical is far cheaper, less problems, no battery to wear out -- but it'll require a tiny bit more work on your part (you'll need to put a drop on the glass, close the cover, hold up the light and read on the scale). You'll probably want something with ATC (automatic temperature compensation) just to make life a little easier. You can probably find something like that for $25.00 on eBay, but you might want to spend a little more to get a good brand.

    Good info sheet on the Cornell Maple Program website http://maple.dnr.cornell.edu/produc/refractometer.htm Also see the North American Maple Manual for info about using the measurements for thinning.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  7. #7
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    Then you are best off with a refractomer. It only takes a couple drops to get a reading. Be sure to test and make comparisons all on the same day. Sugar content can change from day to day so as long as you make your comparisons at the same time you will get better results.
    Anyways what I'd recommend is take an awl to make a small hole into the bark and then take an eye dropper to collect a few drops. Put the drops on your plate and look for the reading.
    I'm not sure how much you want to spend so you may want to see if you can borrow one to use if you only want it for testing if you want one to keep you are going to spend alot more than a hydrometer
    Keith

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    Is it possible for trees to have different sugar content from year to year? I mean if you have one thats say 1% this year what if next year it comes in at 3% or even 4% for some reason but you skipped it. your missing out on that much sap/syrup.

    or on the other side what if the sap is 1.5% but it runs like crazy and you get 3 gal of sap per day. some numbers might be a bit bloated but hey you never know.
    Last edited by red maples; 10-11-2010 at 08:44 PM.
    may your sap be at 3%
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by red maples View Post
    Is it possible for trees to have different sugar content from year to year? I mean if you have one thats say 1% this year what if next year it comes in at 3% or even 4% for some reason but you skipped it. your missing out on that much sap/syrup.

    or on the other side what if the sap is 1.5% but it runs like crazy and you get 3 gal of sap per day. some numbers might be a bit bloated but hey you never know.
    Sugar content is not static. It changes day-to-day. There are several discussions/publications on how to make the measurements and how to use the information to select trees for thinning, so I won't repeat it here, however you do need to take certain precautions when measuring to be sure your readings are accurate. You need to measure small groups of trees in relatively close proximity within a short time period and only compare those to each other, not to trees that you measure next week or next year. The actual sugar content will vary somewhat (it could be 1.5 one day and 2.5 the next), but the "relative" sugar content (ranking) compared to a tree's neighbor is fairly stable (if a tree is a lot higher than trees around it, it will tend to stay high compared to the trees around it, regardless of the actual reading).
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  10. #10
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    I always measure two specific trees when ever I measure sap sugar. I use the average of these two trees to normalize
    all other measurements made at that time.

    I can then compare the normalized measurements for different groups of trees made on different days.

    It's not perfect, but the best I can come up with.

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