A Sad Maple Season

This turned out to be a really strange maple sugaring season. 

We tapped the tree back in February when we had a bit of a warm-up, and at first things went really well. Afternoons were warm, and we started out with a strong run of sap.

Then it got too hot, and the sap stopped running because the temperatures didn’t drop below freezing for several nights in a row.

And then temperatures plunged, and it didn’t get above freezing for almost a week. So still not much sap, but for the opposite reason.

Then on our final weekend of boiling, this happened:

It started as rain but turned to snow while we had the fire going. Not that big of a deal, but not exactly pleasant. But since we weren’t exactly keeping a keen eye on things, we also ended up burning a batch that boiled down more quickly than we expected.

And by last weekend, the sap had turned:

Once it runs yellow, the season is over. This sap isn’t sweet at all, so I’ve been using it to water seedlings — I’m thinking that the minerals should be good for something. 

Total pints of maple syrup this year: 5.

That’s less than half of what we usually get, and less than a third of our best year’s record. 

This could also be caused by last summer’s drought. I read that a poor growing season can also lead to poor sap the following spring — meaning a lower sugar content. That, in turn, would mean lower syrup yields, because you just boil away the excess water to get to the right percentage of sugar in the syrup.

At any rate, the syrup tastes just as good as ever. We just don’t have much of it. Fortunately, we still have a few pints left over from last year, so I don’t foresee having to curtail weekend pancake breakfasts any time soon. 


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