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The sugarhouse has been closed to visitors this year

Dave Klish

As a precaution we have closed our sugar house to the public. I have also had my partner stay home, all as a precaution to minimize the chances that Covid 19 could ever shut production down this season.

As a result, I have been doing all of the processing by myself, something I had not done since 2005. As we tapped the trees I did have the help of my brother-in-law , my oldest son and his girlfriend and my oldest at home grandson. Then as the Covid 19 was getting more worse around the world I decided to make the change to a solo operation and I made sure I didn’t go any place except my sugarhouse and home. So far this is working well.

The 2020 maple season is winding down, sap flow has slowed and the sap sugar % has dropped. It read 1.0% this morning, normally I get an average of 1.9-2.1% for a season average. This year my highest was 1.8% and most of it was between 1.2% and 1.5%. Several factors contribute to the sap sugar %. First is the amount of sun and moisture we had last year. Then comes the amount of snow we got over the late fall thru spring. Another factor is the number of freeze thaw cycles we got from mid winter thru the end of the season. For a freeze to be much good the temperature needs to go down to 28 F or lower, and for a thaw to help much we need it to climb to at least 38F for long enough to thaw the trees. Little swings let’s say down to 30F then up to 35-36 for a few hours helps some but very little.

We did get enough sun, and total rainfall but the heat got high enough that the trees were stressed somewhat. Then this past winter we were about down half of our normal snowfall. Then to follow that up we had far fewer freeze that cycles. The warm spells were warmer, with no overnight freezes, then when we got a freeze it lasted for a few days with no thaw. Those all contributed to lower sugar.

For the last 2 years my average has been 1/2 gal of syrup per tap produced. This year might not even be 1/4 gal per tap. Syrup packed at proper temperature in Stainless Steel (ss) barrels is good for at least 20 years. In fact in Quebec it is their goal to have a 20 yr supply to carry them thru any poor years. Fortunately I still have 5 ss barrels from the 2019 season.

In the end, we did make syrup and likely enough to last until next season, buy not much extra. Those 5 in last year’s inventory is what will carry me thru. The beauty of it is that the flavor was especially good last year. I don’t yet have a total of this year’s production, that will not be known until the last boil is finished and every gallon is counted.

New York State Maple Producers Association has cancelled this year’s Maple Weekend which I had not signed onto for this year, but this is the first year we have not invited guests in to learn how pure maple syrup is made and to get a free taste.

I however still sell my syrup at The Eclectic Chic at 21 Seneca Ave, Oneida (Oneida Castle, Rt 5) as well as online at this site’s store. I ship Monday thru Saturday shipping all orders that were into the website by 6PM the night before.

Thank you for your continued support, I hope to be able to continue this for a few more years, but likely fewer than 10 more unless my grandson (now age 11) who helped this year decides to get really involved. I have 2 other grandsons, one who was my right hand man from age 7-20, he is now in the navy, another grandson helped a few years but was not into it as much as the other, and he helps when I ask, but he is busy working for a bank.

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