The 2019 season was short and sweet. Sugar content of 2.7% was the highest since 2006. Sap was collected for 24 days. Tapping started with 30 inches of snow on the ground and was the first time I remember seeing snow drifts after the season was over. This was the second season using the Leader Vacuum systems and we collected the most sap and syrup since we started in 1991. Pulling taps with vacuum results in all sap being removed from lines to reduce bacteria growth and is quicker. You can also determine where improvements are needed in the future. The longer the drop is from the main line the vacuum is less. . This year 8 year old Vince Cognetta and 9 year old Dylan Olk helped pull taps. Using the 2 foot long aluminum spile pullers they pulled the taps and then Vince’s dad Vinny and Dylan’s grandpa Dave would cut off the clear spile from the drop (we bought the Husky flexible hose clipper from Home Depot) and attach the drop to the nipple on the tee to seal the system. This is the first year we used the red plugs to seal the drops if there wasn’t a nipple to attach the drop. The red plugs were 6 cents a pc and worked great.
Sap stopped running Tuesday 4/16. We were hoping for it to continue after the rainstorm but it wasn’t in the cards. Jason confirmed with us this morning that Pittmans were not processing any more sap. I put out the notice to the WW owners that we need to detap and clean the tanks. Today Jim and I picked up the 3 Harmon tanks and cleaned them. We also cleaned the homewoods transfer tank and delivery tank and put them away in the lower level of Jim’s shed. I then pulled the spiles and cutoff the clear spiles for all taps that were on the bill hill / south hill 3/4″ drain line. Probably about 200 taps and most were already dried up. Tomorrow Quinn, Brad and I will finish pulling the Homewoods taps. Saturday we will pull all of the spiles in the Harmon Woods.
Beautiful sunny weather, no wind and a high of 65 yesterday changed to a steady temperature of 50 and thunderstorms today and forecasted to be cloudy/showery tomorrow with highs in the 40’s. Jason picked up 881 ga11ons from Harmons yesterday so we now have 2,019 gallons of syrup. Jim turned on the vacuum today so we’ll see if we get more sap or have the frogs signalled that the season is over. The frogs started croaking yesterday in Jim’s manure lagoon that faces south. When the frogs in the Harmon Woods pond wake up then we know for sure the soil temperatures have risen and the season is over.
We have now collected about 63,000 gallons of sap and 1,988 gallons of maple syrup which are WW records. The syrup quality and color improved today so we will be collecting more sap this week so we will go over 2,000 gallons. Today’s run was only about 1.000 gallons of maple sap as a south wind brought in low pressure and clouds despite a low of 24 and and high of 51. . The frogs have not been croaking yet in the Harmon ponds so there still should be good sap this week despite no freezing temps in the future. The sap run has been steady since the first sap was collected March 23. The only break was from the super storm.for a two day break. There has been no large sap runs (running more than 24 hours) now for the last two years.
Hi 39 and low of 29 today & cloudy. The sap started running about 10:30 and we collected 4000-5000 gallons again. The sap coming yesterday and less today had white strings/pieces in it. This is from the bacteria that had grown on the inside of the lines during the warm spell before the storm. The two days of hard running will clear out the white junk. After emptying the tanks we let the final 20-30 gallons that contained most of the white junk (it sinks to the bottom of the tanks) run out onto the ground. The sap is hard to process with the white strings since the filters plug up quicker, there is more foaming on the evaporator and it’s harder to maintain a constant temperature. After today this issue should be gone.
We received about 10 inches of snow plus sleet/rain and 50-60mph winds on Wednesday and Thursday. The ground was covered with many small branches. The snow had a brown tint from the Texas dust storm that was sucked in the super storm. A large tree was blown over at the old Harmon farm and the power was off at the Harmon bins for about 3 hours. The sap started running about 11pm Thursday - at 9AM the homewoods tank was filled to the brim and the Harmon tanks had run about 2200 gallons. This all ran without the vacuum systems being on. On Thursday evening Jim drove his tractor down into the homewoods and discovered that a large tree on the south hill had snapped off and fell within inches of hitting the vacuum wagon. It knocked down but did not break the 3/4″ drain lines connected to the vacuum exchanger. The 3/4″ line from the SW hill was laying under the tree. I unhooked the line from the exchanger and was able to pull it out and reconnect the line to the exchanger. The sap had continued to run despite going uphill and the tank was running over when we got there. On the way in we thought we might have been in trouble since the 3 sap pails hung by Bill B. were dripping. The temperature only got about 35 degrees today and the sap ran very well. It should be an extended run over the next week since the weather conditions will be ideal.
The snow arrived today - Hi 32 and low 25. We are expecting 6 inches today and then for snow to redevelop tonite and snow all day tomorrow. An additional 4-8 inches are expected. No sap today. We need this storm to pass and if the conditions are good we should have a great run of sap. Probably the last big run of the year.
REPORT FROM SCOTT VALITCHKA- APPLETON WI. FIRST COUSIN TO THE WEISS’S
Thanks for the sap update! It sounds as if the sap is running well on your side of the state too.
Although we only have around 480-500 taps out versus the Weiss 5,000 and never see the big numbers that you guys get, we have done well.
Peter and my Dad reported that they just collected nearly 500 gallons on sap today. That came on top of 565 gallons that they collected last Thursday.
This is turning out to be a nice steady season for us. With snow forecast by mid-week, we should get another good run or two.
My Dad is enjoying his time cooking the sap and watching spring return in slow but deliberate fashion to the woods.
We had a nice visit from Galen and Byron Radle during the last week of March. They were both a big help as we collected sap. Byron enjoyed driving tractor and collecting with me. We teased Galen that he was a sap athlete as we collected 400 gallons one day or about 3,200 pounds of weight. (He was the one who hoisted and poured nearly all of the five gallon pails into our collection tank.) That was impressive for someone at 88 years. And although tired, Galen still had the wits and energy to soundly beat us when we played cards (Estimate) in the evening.
I always think that Grandpa Radle has to be smiling from heaven at the wonderful family tradition that he fostered and supported through our families with syrup making. It’s great to reconnect in this way each spring!
Yesterday’s high was 68 with a low this morning about 36. Tomorrow the major storm starts with rain in the afternoon after freezing tonite. After that we are to get 7-15 inches of snow through Friday with highs in the 30’s. It will be ideal sap weather through the weekend and then it warms up a little. There is no big warm up in site so the trees will still give up sap till that happens. The pond in the Harmon woods still had some ice in it.so the frogs won’t be coming out yet.. Even though it hasn’t froze for the last four days we continue to get sap at about 1/2 to 2/3 of normal or about 7500 gallons of sap. The only people getting sap over the last four days are the ones with high vacuum systems. If we hadn’t switched to vacuum last season we would probably be done like Rip Gilles.
Today was a low of 34 and high of 50 - cloudy and foggy all day. Despite the weather Jim turned on the vacuum at Harmons at 10:30AM before he went to the doctor for his Bell’s Palsy checkup. By 7pm there was 1700 gallons of sap in the tanks so it turned out to be a decent sap day. Rain is supposed to start at midnite and continue for the weekend. Usually when the rain starts the sap stops. This should get the remaining frost out of the ground. A large storm is forecast mid next week with 5 days of freezing weather after the storm. Jim says that fellow sapper Roger Gilles believes his woods is done running. When he turned on the vacuum this AM there was no sap.
Brad took off work Tuesday afternoon to work in the woods with me. We put in the last sap line in the west section that we started reworking last fall - Brent and I had put in two lines the week before. To eliminate the air bubbles coming back at the booster we needed to check the drain line to ensure it always was in a downward angle. Armed with a level Brad and I headed down the 2800′ length of the line - adjusting it up or down as needed as we inspected the entire line as it dropped about 200 feet along it’s length. After circling back along the far east 1″ line (finding a few small vacuum leaks) to the booster we observed that the sap was all being sucked by vacuum into the drain line so it was a job well done.
The day was cloudy and cool. low 28 and high 44 - below normal again. THere is still a lot of snow on the north facing slopes. This resulted in another high volume sap run of about 5,000 gallons. When I turned on the vacuum it was pouring in - pressure went to 23 and increased to 25 when I took the pressure off of the vacuum hose from the pump to the exchanger. Downward pressure was causing the fit to not be tight. The exchanger was cycling at 36 seconds or a volume of about 500 gallons per hour. When the sap started the cycle was at 18 seconds. At 10:30 I helped Marlo Bauer load up the tanker (2.980 gallons) and at 5pm Jason and visitor Cory Grape picked up about 3,100 gallons. The sap is still running at a rate of about 250 gallons per hour so we should get a good amount before it stops running tonite. Forecast is freezing temps the next three nights so it probably is the last big sap run as the temps start to warm after this date. Jim delivered 582 gallons from the homewoods and has another 250 gallons ready for tomorrow. We now have about 30,000 gallons of sap and 1,000 gallons of syrup.