We are in the midst of preparing the maple sugarbush for the upcoming sugaring season. Despite the chill, it’s a great time to do it. The thick foliage is off the trees, making visibility and navigation through the acres of woodland much easier. We’re better able to access the trees and network of sap lines for repair and maintenance.
The sap line network was hit particularly hard this past March during an ice storm that arrived just before the first sap run of the season. We scrambled for a week to make the lines useable as quickly as possible, but had to leave some replacements and fine tuning to be done after the season ended. Sap waits for no one! In June, you make hay while the sun shines. In March, you boil when the sap runs!
Sap lines converge
A sap line can be likened to a road system. It consists of the main line (or main thoroughfare), lateral lines (side roads), the drop (your driveway) and the tap itself (your front door). The main line is a black plastic tube that ranges in diameter from 1 inch at the top of the network to 1.75 inches at the bottom where it terminates in the sap collection tank. The lateral lines are comprised of light green or blue plastic tubing .25 inches in diameter that branch out from the main line to the meet the individual trees. At the tree, the lateral tubing meets the tap itself via a drop. The drop is the T-shaped intersection formed by lateral tubing and plastic tubing joints that join the tree to the rest of the line. In recent years, we converted from plastic to stainless steel taps. Unlike plastic taps, stainless taps allow us the ability to remove them at the end of the season, sanitize them, then replace them before the start of the next season. This way, they make for healthier, more productive trees. They also result in less waste, as plastic taps cannot be removed from the trees, degrade quickly and new ones must be purchased.
As the season heats up, we’ll include more posts featuring the maple sugaring process. In the meantime, we’re preparing the maple highway in hopes of a record-breaking crop!