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Thread: Backyard Syrup Enthusiasts 2021

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
    Posts
    145

    Default Backyard Syrup Enthusiasts 2021

    As the first real snow storm of the season is in full swing and after a really cold week, it hardly seems that maple season is approaching, but it is.

    Welcome to all backyard operators and anyone who loves the pursuit of maple. Backyard syrupers seem to come in all levels of sophistication. I'm pretty simple with my setup. This is my sixth season making syrup, fourth here in Mount Vernon, northwest of Augusta. I use a concrete block arch with 3 steam trays in conjunction with a wood stove/steam tray as a warming pan. This setup will evaporate around 7 gallons per hour so I can easily get a gallon of syrup a day. No big changes in operation from past seasons....aiming for 13 gallons again this year. We still have 2 left from last year.

    My wife and I have a small homestead here where we raise a good portion of our food. Syrup is food, right???? Anyway every homesteader general loves tools. My favorite homestead tool which crosses into maple production is the chain saw. I keep two, both Stihls, an 026 and an 029/ms390 combo saw my son cannibalized, covering 16 to 20 bar length. We burn a cord+ of wood for sap another 3 for the house. Sap wood is everything, whatever is most plentiful. If there is any big stuff, my son has an 084 with a 36" bar used for milling. That is one big saw.

    My least expensive favorite tool is an old hair dryer I use to warm the engine on my tractor. 45 minutes with an old wool blanket cover works great even in the cold we've had.

    While we wait for sap to run, what other favorite tools are out there?

    Best of luck to everyone this season!
    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
    2021 62 taps 13.5 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    20

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    Greetings! I got bit by the maple sugar bug last March when I saw a neighbor with buckets out and tapped 8 maple trees. I've since been grateful for discovering MapleTrader and everyone's wealth of experience and knowledge. I talked to most of my neighbors and am planning on tapping 50+ trees in my neighborhood this year, and putting together a homemade RO and homemade cinderblock evaporator. I did tapped some "waste" maples in late November and have collected ~15 gallons that I could play around with to tweak my evaporator structure and filtering skills. Was goign to tap this week with temps near 40, but with the deep cold in the forecast, it looks like it won't be until Feb 20th or later.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
    Posts
    145

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    I agree Canterberry Maple--hold the line for a bit. Seems to be one of my go-to statements lately. I typically tap after mid February, but it will be too cold next week and into the following week. I used to get antsy in January when temps could be up for a week, but I've got over that tendency finally.

    Interesting that you tapped in November and got some sap. That coberates with what I've read in old tapping stories. Are those taps still functional? If like to know how long they run, and how they compare flow wise with your taps this spring. Any idea of the sugar content? Good experiment......
    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
    2021 62 taps 13.5 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    20

    Default

    So the taps ran until about early to mid-January, then dried up even on days when they "should have ben running". Seem consistent with the 4-6 week life of a tap hole. I added an additional hole on 3 of the larger "waste" trees, and I've gotten another ~5-ish gallons ove rthe past few weeks. Keeping well frozen outside with this arctic weather haha! I'm almost done building my RO (4 membrane set-up patterned off of soulyrested.com and their diagrams), so I'm going to try a full RO cycle (wash prep/run sap/flush membranes) to see what mistakes I've made in design, any leaks, and what I need to learn before the gushers start coming. Looks like the 17th or 18th might be my tapping days for my property as I'll be out of town for a few days then need to tap my neighbors trees. The itch is getting very hard not to scratch...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Also, how do you add the "signature" portion below all your posts? Where people put their history of what they've done. Like to make sure people know how novice I am as they read anything I say !

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Peru, Maine
    Posts
    782

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanterburyMaple View Post
    Also, how do you add the "signature" portion below all your posts? Where people put their history of what they've done. Like to make sure people know how novice I am as they read anything I say !
    Go to “settings” in the upper right corner of the page then on the left look for “edit signature”
    I was originally planning to tap this coming weekend but will hold off and see what the weather does. Looks cold. 2 of us can easily get our taps in in a day. Still need to finish hooking up the new shurflo and S3 system.
    270 taps on 2 Shurflo's, 31 taps on 3/16" and 120 taps on gravity. 421 total for 2021 season.
    Mountain Maple S3 controller for 145 of the vacuum taps
    2x6 Darveau Mystique Oil Fired Evaporator w/ Smoky Lake Simplicity Auto Draw
    Wesfab 7” filter press
    IBC totes in the woods, 800 Gallon CDL bulk tank at the shack

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mainebackswoodssyrup View Post
    Go to “settings” in the upper right corner of the page then on the left look for “edit signature”
    I was originally planning to tap this coming weekend but will hold off and see what the weather does. Looks cold. 2 of us can easily get our taps in in a day. Still need to finish hooking up the new shurflo and S3 system.
    Thanks so much!
    2021 Spring- 70 red maples, 2 sugar maples, homemade RO, 2 pan cinderblock evaporator.
    2020 Fall - tapped 8 "waste" maples to practice on evaporator for spring '21. 1/4 gallon of syrup.
    2020 Spring - 8 taps on droplines into buckets, stove top boil, < 1 gallon syrup

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
    Posts
    145

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CanterburyMaple View Post
    So the taps ran until about early to mid-January, then dried up even on days when they "should have ben running". Seem consistent with the 4-6 week life of a tap hole. I added an additional hole on 3 of the larger "waste" trees, and I've gotten another ~5-ish gallons ove rthe past few weeks.
    Interesting evolution of your tap holes. Do you happen to know the sugar content? It would be interesting to see how it compares with traditional spring taps.

    Just looked at the 10 day forecast and I see 30 for the 18th and 19th....still cold at night. At least it's getting warmer during the day. I usually tap around mid month, but that's too cold this year. I might wait till I see some days of 35 or so. I'll use the time to boil my spiles, clean out the arch, gather more newspaper, etc. and remove three pine trees that cast some shade on a couple of my sugar maples.
    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
    2021 62 taps 13.5 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Southern Maine
    Posts
    20

    Default

    I'm guessing the sugar content was pretty low. I was probably getting a cup of syrup for every 4 gallons of sap, so that's 1 to 64 ratio, vs. the 1 to 44 ratio for 2% sap. Consistent with what others have said on here about low sugar contents in the fall/early winter. Just got 2 hydrometers so I can test both sap and syrup BRIX, woot! And yes, agree on the cold setting in for longer. Tapping in February looks "optimistic" this year. I still have plenty to do: need to drill holes in lids/buckets and get my sap storage container fitted with a valve at the bottom. And create a snow refrigerator for it at that. And dig out my evaporator that got buried in snow (but I covered it with a tarp first).
    2021 Spring- 70 red maples, 2 sugar maples, homemade RO, 2 pan cinderblock evaporator.
    2020 Fall - tapped 8 "waste" maples to practice on evaporator for spring '21. 1/4 gallon of syrup.
    2020 Spring - 8 taps on droplines into buckets, stove top boil, < 1 gallon syrup

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
    Posts
    5,579

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mvhomesteader View Post
    Interesting that you tapped in November and got some sap. That coberates with what I've read in old tapping stories. Are those taps still functional? If like to know how long they run, and how they compare flow wise with your taps this spring. Any idea of the sugar content? Good experiment......
    Sap will flow from tapholes (or wounds) in maple anytime the weather conditions are appropriate: warm periods after freezing periods. The sap sugar content will be considerably lower in the fall however.

    Tapholes exposed to air (gravity flow...buckets, bags, tubing without vacuum) will dry out after 4-6 weeks...perhaps a tad longer if it is cold and there is little flow during that time. They will not flow (much) after that.

    Tapholes on strong vacuum with good sanitation practices can remain viable far longer. Tapping in January and sap flows into mid-April are not uncommon.

    Reaming, bumping, drilling deeper may rejuvenate flow a bit (a lot depends on the timing) after stoppage (drying out...actually a misnomer since it is more akin to "clogging up" and a natural wound response to microbes in the taphole), however the internal wound of these practices can be 2-3X the size, so in general, these practices are not sustainable in the long-term and should be avoided.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

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