maple syrup

Planning for 2018 Maple Syrup Expansion

Improvements will be built upon the foundation of the current process, as defined in the “Process Flow-Maple Syrup” diagram

It is is mid-June, and already I feel a bit late in putting together the improvements necessary to significantly scale up maple operations in 2018. This is my first pass at identifying what needs to be put in place to increase production by a factor of 8x to 10x. The number of taps will go from 50-70 in 2017, to 400-500 in 2018.  What will stay the same, and what will change? Read more

Revisiting the End of Maple Sugaring Season – Based on Growing Degree Days

Sugar Maple buds, iPhonography through telescope 2017 Apr 04

Of course our maple season ended some time ago, the last sap was evaporated on March 21st; the end having nothing to do with Growing Degree Days and reaching budbreak, but having everything to do with the trees healing the tap holes to the extent that sap flow was stifled. As I looked out the window yesterday though, it was clear that the two mature Red Maples in our backyard were in the process of leafing out, and with the naked eye it looked like the Sugar Maples on the south side of the house were budding out, if not yet flowering or leafing out. Read more

Predicting the End of Maple Sugaring Season – Caveat emptor

Back to the Growing Degree Days (GDD) calculation, and “knowing” that Sugar Maples budbreak between 30-50 GDD°C base 10 (54-100 GDD°F base 50), how then does that help us?  Even predicting the end of the season is of dubious value I suppose, but it seems like a good exercise.  So, I’m just taking a relatively uninformed shot at this prediction; I have not tested the results against “real life” as recorded in prior years, nor have I used records from real life in prior years to inform this prediction.  In other words, caveat emptor. Read more

Estimating the End of Maple Sugaring Season – Based on Growing Degree Days

 

Not so much

Today’s lack of sap flow, in the face of a 50⁰F daytime high, after a low in the mid 20’s overnight, has me concerned.  It certainly seems as if the sap should be running from the taps.  So, I thought I would revisit the issue of Growing Degree Days, and perform the calculation using data from a bit closer to home.  A couple of “revelations,” if you will: there are Celsius, or Centigrade GDD, and there are Fahrenheit GDD.  It is often not specified in literature, and I tripped over this distinction, or the lack of a distinction, in my earlier post on the subject, “MAPLE SYRUPING SEASON – STARTING, ENDING, OR BOTH?”  In the wikipedia entry on the subject of Acer saccharum, aka Sugar Maple, it is written that “flowering occurs in early spring after 30–55 growing degree days.”  GDD Celsius or GDD Fahrenheit not specified, naturally.  Since the units in the balance of the entry are in metric units, with English units noted parenthetically, I finally made the connection that flowering will occur at 30-55 GDDC (Celsius).  If GDDC is then multiplied by 1.8, the result is a GDDF (Fahrenheit) range of 54-99.  Okay, so now that that’s cleared up, where are we now? Read more

Maple Syruping Season – Mid-Season Update

New snow

I am guessing we are at mid-season, and hopeful that it will run through the end of March.  Having said mid-season, we still have only chalked up 4 growing degree days (GDD) since Jan 01; that’s at the South Haven station, 16 miles to our northwest, and on the shores of Lake Michigan. Read more

Maple Syruping Season – Starting, Ending, or Both?

I have been asked that question a lot lately, sometimes in more general terms, and I have asked it of myself as frequently!  Unfortunately I have had nothing resembling an answer.  Then yesterday, my early homesteader education continued, as the concept of “Growing degree days,” Gdd or GDD for short, came to my attention.  As it turns out, there is some science that can be brought to bear on the subject of when trees will bud out, and that so-called “budbreak” signals the end of the maple sugaring season. Read more

2017 Maple Syruping Season – GO!!!

I am calling the official start of Primal Wood’s maple sugaring season as 2017 February 10th.  We got some sap flow yesterday and the day before (Monday-Tuesday) in our five test buckets; they are full in fact.  Today and tomorrow no flow is expected, as temperatures are expected to remain solidly below freezing.  Friday we see the rise from an overnight low of 18ºF to a daytime high of 41ºF; that is a near perfect scenario.  We shall see whether or not flow continues Saturday through Monday, as we do not see sub-freezing temperatures overnight, but then we pick up again with a nice cycle from Tuesday morning through Friday of next week.  Today and tomorrow will be maple syruping preparations and tapping.  Here we GO! Read more

2017 Maple Syruping Season – Calling the Start

I have had a few questions about when our maple syruping season will start.  We are just now diving back down into the sub-freezing temperatures, after more than a week of unseasonably warm January temperatures, as can be seen in the one-week history table, we have had no temperatures below freezing.

One-week history from S. Haven station, 16 miles to our norhwest

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2017 January – Deep Winter, So What?

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Central Boiler firebox after a 12 hour burn; overnight low 8°F

The wheel barrow full is about a 12 hr load-out at current temperatures

I suppose we all have those periods of time, when we are losing sleep because we have so much going on in our lives that it seems incredibly daunting to even consider what needs to be done to satisfy all of the needs.  So it has been for me in recent days.  It helped to put together the 2016 Year in Review post, and the goals for 2017 that it documents.

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Warré Bee Hive Construction – Part II

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It is a rainy and cool fall day, in the middle of a week predicted to be rainy and cool, which has the benefit of finally bringing me back around to Part II of two-part series on building a Warré bee hive.  It is hard to believe that I wrote Warré Beehive Construction – Part I over two and a half years ago; I am not proud of that fact!

We started Primal Woods, LLC this year, and as part of the “Sugarers” subsidiary, of course honey is a part.  The plan is in place to double the number of hives each year until we have at least 64.  Even at a relatively modest 25 lbs of honey per hive per year, that would add up to 1,600 lbs of honey per year.  Having said that, with all of the various pressures that honeybees are under, from pesticides in particular, it is possible that their production might be cut in half, or more.  For now though, 64 hives seems like an aggressive target.  Inside of that number, the plan is to double each year until we get to 64, so this year that meant building an additional two hives; it will be four more in 2017, eight in 2018, and so on. Read more