A lot has happened since the last update, the most notable was definitely the 17-18" of heavy wet snow dumped on us. For sure this is because we took the tracks off of one of the four wheelers. It never fails, even if we took them off in June there would be a giant snowstorm a few days later.
The sap has run fairly well the past week when temps have been above or near freezing, as I said before the trees really seem to want to run well and we've continued to get sap at freezing and below freezing temps. A lot of this of course has to do with the fact the our vacuum is really tight thanks to our monitoring system and hard work. Its amazing to see how the slightest leak will cause your entire mainline to freeze up behind that leak. If you have lots of small leaks throughout your woods, most of the time from leaking manifolds and trees, you'll be missing out on hours of sap on those lines in the evening, and hours in the morning until things thaw out. On marginal days where the temp is maybe 30-36 and the sap is running, behind every leak may not thaw at all. Those hours and days can add up over the course of the season.
We had a really nice warm up last week and got good volumes of sap but the sugar content was still low. Thankfully on Sunday the sugar content of the sap came up to 2.0-2.4 depending on the woods and time of the day. The sap ran the hardest it has all year on Sunday afternoon from 3-8 PM the day after the snowstorm. Weather was sunny and 44. By noon it was barley running and by 2 it hadn't added up to even a thousand gallons. By 3 is was running hard and in 5 hours it ran 22,000 gallons before freezing up.
We are at 29% of a crop at this point. By April 1, I think we will definitely be over 50% of a crop which is where we like to be since we usually make more syrup in April than March. The forecast coming up has exactly what we need and what my trees like, 50's for a three or four days.
We are cleaning the entire evaporator today in preparation for Wednesday where I expect we will get slammed with sap for the next week. Since we are now boiling at 23-24% brix we think we will need to clean the flue pan more often.
The evaporator does perform better with that higher brix. We are making a barrel every 15-20 minutes, so we probably average 17.5 minutes or less. That comes out to around 135-140 GPH of syrup. It has been really nice to reduce our boiling time as well and get more sleep at night!
I'll get another update out when time permits. Good luck in the sugarwoods!