Next week we will be packing the next batch of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. The barrel being opened was hot packed on Dec. 21, 2017. That will be six months plus a week for the aging process.
While it got done late because of my health delays, the tubing has now been cleaned. It will be ready to go next season.
There is still loads of work to do before the 2019 season. Plans are to redesign the collection system at my leased woods. There I now have a vacuum tank (the full vacuum is put on the tank and that in turn pulls the sap to it) which is only safe to run a this vacuum tank at 20″ of vacuum, thus I use a control which holds it at 19″. If too much vacuum were put on the tank, the 1000 gal stainless tank could implode and render the tank useless and only good for scrap metal. The plan for next year is to add a piece of equipment called a releaser, releasers are good to full vacuum, or just under 30″. That releaser has 2 chambers, when one chamber fills up, the vacuum is switched to the second chamber and the first chamber dumps it’s sap into the storage tank. In order to do that I’ll need to fabricate a stand to hold the releaser a little above the top of the 1000 gal tank (it is almost 5’6″ in diameter) and put a collection tank under the releaser to catch the sap as it is dumped and then pipe it into the 1000 gal tank. By making those changes the pump I have will be able to give me 24-25″ of vacuum, and in time I could get a better pump and run at 27-28″ of vacuum. The main fact about vacuum on maple collection systems is that every inch of vacuum yields 5-7% more sap, without hurting the tree, and it is like compound interest, in that every added inch of vacuum gives that % above what is gotten at the 1″ less vacuum level. By going from 19″ to 24″ I could get from 27.6% more sap at the 5% rate and up to 40% more sap if I got the 7% /inch gain. My hope will be for 30% more, all off the same number of taps. Then additionally I plan to add up to 75 more taps, going from 675 up to about 750 at the lease. Around the sugarhouse I have 225 taps this year and plans are to add about 60-70 more there too. At those numbers both will be near or at maximum potential. Then the lease could support a better vacuum pump for another gain of 3-4″ more vacuum.
While I a few years ago had 1320 taps, that was on 2 leases but no taps around the sugarhouse. I since decided to sell one lease and just max out one lease while also putting vacuum on at the sugarhouse. Back before I got the second lease back in 2011, I had tapped around the sugarhouse, but since I had no vacuum pump there the sap had to run smaller gravity tubing systems and drive the tractor around to 7 collection tanks, pump the sap into a tank I carried on the back of the tractor and then haul it to the sugarhouse and pump it into the sap tanks there. Now, using vacuum, the sap all flows directly to one of two sap tanks at the sugarhouse. The pump I now have at the sugarhouse gives me 24-25″ of vacuum and even it I were to get up to 300 taps there the gain for a better pump would not justify the cost of such a pump, not enough tap potential.
I also need to saw some logs into lumber to build a loft in the shop. A few other things to build too, will discuss them later.