Archive for March 11th, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Back at the start of the sugaring season, we indicated that we would like to meet or surpass our previous season best, 28 gallons of syrup. This year, we have only boiled three times and have already made seven gallons. Not bad for our 120+ tap operation. So far this year the sap is running about 1.6% sugar which does help. However, things are changing here and that is making for a fun but stressful season.

Previously, we have hauled our sap to the sugar house by hand in 5gal. buckets. This was generally not a problem, but it could prove to be difficult at times.  This year, we are not able to do that as much and it is tough to both collect and watch the evaporator, so one person must collect and one oversee the boiling.  A ton of work for one of us and a ton of stress on the other.  That said, we are indeed having fun!  Monday night we boiled again after our rather messy Saturday and in three hours made just over two gallons of Medium Amber.  We decided that it was some of the best syrup we have ever made and promptly put most of it in storage. The past two days, we have focused on collecting, putting away close to two hundred gallons for us to boil over the next couple of days.  So, we think we will come close to our goal if the season holds.

Speaking of the season, it has been good, but not as good as it could be.  Maples need the cold, below freezing nights and warm days for the sap to move up in the trees.  They also need there to be little to no wind and for there to be plenty of moisture in the ground.  Though it may be hard to believe, after all the snow this winter, but around the base of the trees, where this moisture needs to be, it is quite dry.  Not to mention that it has also been rather windy of late, further reducing the potential total sap.

This is mother natures first harvest and a true sign that spring is on the horizon, so who really has the right to complain, especially if you are having fun and making money at the same time. Speaking of money, we settled on pricing for the 2010 crop:

  • $46 a gallon
  • $28 a 1/2 gallon
  • $16 a Quart

What is driving up the cost of syrup you ask? quite simply foreign demand. the far east is buying syrup in incredible quantities and paying incredible bulk prices. Bulk prices are hard to predict but after hearing people talk, we expect it to settle out at $3 a pound, a record price indeed.  This trend may not last forever though.  There are a record number of people who see nothing but $$$ when they talk about syrup. As a result local companies that build the worlds only sugaring equipment are seeing a record increase in the number of people starting to sugar.  Sugaring is not a cheap hobby, nor is it an easy one, and we think that only the die-hards will survive.  So while the price may level off in a couple of years, when these overwhelmed newbies decide that they have had enough, prices may go even higher.

For now, let us hope for good weather, some precipitation and a good low pressure system to settle over our little hilltop. Lots of long days and nights on our horizon, but we’ll keep you posted.

Posted on 11 March '10 by Counselor, under Hilltop Honey, Hilltop Maple. No Comments.

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