78 years ago

March 5, 1943

Maple syrup tips for efficient production

Maple syrup production in New York exceeded the million dollar mark last year. Over 90% of the syrup produced came from farmers’ woodlots. Maple syrup production is a vital operation in this state and must be entirely completed in a few short weeks each year.

Last year’s production for the state amounted to slightly over 933,000 gallons. Compared to the 733,000 yearly average for the past 10 years, an increase of 27% was accomplished. This was due to a generally favorable year and good market. To accomplish this increase, it was necessary to increase the number of trees tapped by only 7%.

Prospects for this year’s production passing that of last year are good. Most sugar bushes should produce to the maximum as the ground was saturated with water last fall and the winter severe. This combination makes for heavy sap runs. There is no carry over on the market, and many new outlets have appeared.

Labor will be a real factor in determining this year’s production. It is agreed upon that there will not be sufficient farm labor to carry out fully all sugar bush operations. As a partial solution, three suggestions are given.

1. Get all tapping done a few days to a week before the run starts. By getting all trees tapped before the run, you will be able to handle the operation with less man power.

2. Check trees for sugar content of sap. This has proved to be relatively accurate in judging syrup production per tree. The checking is done by a sap hydrometer, which shows the sugar content of the sap coming from each tree. After their sugar test, the poor trees can be dropped and better ones concentrated on to obtain more syrup from less sap handled.

3. Have the sap house ready. Be sure to have plenty of seasoned, dry fuel wood to carry you through the season. Don’t have to stop boiling because of poor or insufficient wood. See if pans are clean, your syrup containers on hand and your firebox clean. By checking before the run starts, you need not waste man power after operations are underway.

A vital point to consider in production is that of the care of the sugar bush. Since maple trees in the bush are factories producing raw material to make syrup, their care and continued maintenance are important.

1. Don’t pasture the sugar bush, as livestock damage the ground cover, thereby affecting the trees. After grazing ground is hardened, it stops the moisture from getting to the tree roots, which in turn cuts down sap and the vitality of the tree, causing it to die.

2. Don’t overtap trees. Always remember the following rule: 1 spout for 10 inch, 2 spouts for 15 inch, 3 spouts for 20 inch and 4 spouts for 25 inch trees give the best results.

3. Always give the bush proper growing room. Keep taps clear of one another. This can best be done by looking up to see if the sky can be seen between all tops. By allowing this growing space, tops always stay active and an active top produces more sap.

4. Remember the perfect sugar bush is one with 60, 4-bucket trees per acre. Remove poor, low-sugar trees to benefit better trees so that in time you will approach the ideal stand.