I was out of the country on business so haven’t had access to do a final sugaring season update. Weiss Woods ended up with 1029 gallons of maple syrup made from 39,478 gallons of maple sap. This year spring came earlier - sap collection was 3/14 to 4/5 while last year it was from 3/27 to 4/19 - a full 2 weeks earlier. Sugar content was down 5% to 2.24%, total sap collection was down 35% and Maple Syrup produced was down 39%. 2015 turned out to be an average year after 2 years of above average production. The plastic bags produced about 5,000 of sap - 11.7 gallons per tap vs about 7 gallons per tap on the tube lines. Bags have usually produced more sap per tap. For the equipment cleanup last weekend the new LLC members along with Kevin and Jim picked up the slack since Dave, Brent and Bruce were not available. Dave was in China, Brent had a baseball tournament (his is the assistant Plum City High School Coach) and Bruce has to start his recovery process from a cancer diagnosis made early April. Bruce is a key member of the WW team and we all wish him a speedy recovery. Jim and Eric untapped the home woods 4/6 and 4/7, Brad detapped a thousand + in the harmon woods on 4/10 and the rest of the cleanup was done on 4/11.
Nature had it’s april fools day joke with a high of 78 degrees today and thunderstorms tonite. It’s supposed to cool off by Friday so hopefully there will be a final run of sap. We are currently have collected about 36,000 gallons of maple sap so it appears we won’t be close to last years total of 61,000 gallons.
About 29,000 gallons of sap collected. sugar content remains lower than last year at about 2.2% overall which means that it is taking 39 gallons of sap this year to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. Everything is working good so far this year for the sap collection. Next year improvements we hope to have is a 600 gallon tank for the schwan’s truck and add the backup sap pump to the truck so we can pump out the harmon tank if needed and to decrease the trips to pittman by 25% .
2nd cold morning in a row with a low of 15 degrees. The sap won’t flow until the afternoon. We collected bag sap yesterday with Brandon, Erin and kids plus Brent, Quinn and dave. 2 Shots of ether into the trusty John Deere and the diesel engine came to life. We wanted to get the bags empty so they wouldn’t be full of ice today. While we did that Bruce emptied the homewoods tank of 385 gallons - the valve needed some hot water to thaw before he could get the sap out. Jim came to the rescue with the hot water and then he headed off to the fish fry in elmwood. After the sap delivery to Pittmans for processing Bruce and Dave went downtown to eat the traditional friday fish fry at Deans. While there they met their cousin Rod Radle who lives in Plum City. Since PC is in a valley the low that morning was 5 degrees according to Rod. Today Kevin and Bruce will let the sap down to the valley from the holding tank (about 200 gallons) plus check the tube lines since the older ones can come off when the sap starts to flow through the frozen sap which creates a tremendous amount of pressure. As of today we have collected about 24,000 gallons of maple sap so we are off to a good start. This morning was Pittmans 2nd annual pancake breakfast for his family and the sap providers. Jim, Kevin, Bruce Brent and Eric Radle had a good time since they spent 2+ hours there. We shouldn’t have to pickup any sap till later today from the home woods. The sap bags will be okay till tomorrow. Tonite the Badgers play arizona for the honor of going to the final four. This past week we ordered 8 tapping bits for next year - total cost about $151.
A cold day today - high 35. The sap bags were picked up by Jim, Bruce, Dave and Quinn - 1,000 gallons of beautiful clear sap. Jim took down 1 tanker and there was about 2,000 gallons to pickup in the harmon tanks. Dave purchased 8 drills bits for next year from the Roth sugarbush - $151. We wrapped up things by 5:30 so everyone could watch the badger game. The badgers came through with a great come from behind victory over north carolina.
Yesterday was a big sap run. Quinn, Jim, Dave and Brent picked up about 1200 gallons from the 400 sap bags. Approximately 5-10% of the bags were running over. We had to hold the bag sap in the holding tanks otherwise the pickup tanks would have run over. Jim drove over the loader tractor today and emptied the tanks since Pittmans had picked up 2500 gallons of sap at 8am today. Jim took down 3 tankers from the home woods also yesterday and 2 more today. Jim and Dave took down the last home woods tanker at 9pm and it was just starting to snow when we were coming back. After todays pickup we are over 20,000 gallons of maple sap and 530 gallons of maple syrup. Sugar content is down from last year at about 2.2%. There was another 2-3 inches of snow last nite in addition to the 4 inches on Sunday nite. There is plenty of moisture to keep the sap flowing so all we need is the temperatures to stay cool to go for another record year.
Had a good crew today so bottled 179.5 gallons for WW and another 40-50 for Pittmans. We bottled 100 qts for Eric Maxwell in exchange for 1 case of coors lite. the syrup is a perfect color and tastes great. Sap started running after 2pm quite hard so got a full tanker from the Harmon woods(there was 2100 gallons in the tanks at 5pm) and the home woods. Jim went home to check on the Home woods and took out 3 transfer tanks over the next 1.5 hours. There was heavy snow in PC starting about 7pm so took a little longer to get home. Kevin, Mike and Dave bottled syrup starting at 12:30 and kept going till about 6pm. The other guys picked up about 400 gallons of bag sap.
First day of Spring and there is a cold wind blowing from the NW. Maple sap should be running later today since it won’t get above freezing until noon. There is snow predicted for tomorrow so the cold weather is going to last a few weeks. We have collected about 6000 gallons of sap and 140 gallons of syrup so far so it’s a good start to the season. The sugar content is running lower than last year. yesterday I checked the harmon woods main drain lines - all had sap running but very slow. I only found 2 small leaks in the white tube lines that feed into the main black drain lines. The longest line that runs to the west about 1/2 mile and end in the ravine below the outside dam was in perfect shape. There were about 10 sap bags that had blown off of the spiles so I put them back on.
The tapping was completed this weekend. It was a very unusual spring since all of the snow was gone when we tapped due to the record high temperatures this past week and weekend. Brent and Bruce tapped 350 taps in the harmon woods on Thursday and then on Friday Brad, Brent, Jim, Dave and Bruce tapped about 1500 trees in the new reworked section on the south side and finished up in the NE hole - Bruce & Dave had the honors of completing the stress test for the final 2 lines. It was more difficult since we had to fix up a sap line cut up by turkeys and a broken bit by dave. On Saturday we finished up the balance of the tube lines (about 1500 more) and 400 sap bags in the center of the woods. Vinnie, Brandon, Brent, Bruce, Jim, Dave, Kevin, Mike and Eric do the majority of the work. Brent Blegen helped Jim for about 2 hours. After tapping 6 of the tappers headed to the 70’s nite at Deans with a nitecap at JR’s in downtown Plum City to celebrate the completion of the tapping. Jim took down the first sap of year from the home woods (268 gallons) on Saturday and there was 750 gallons in the harmon pickup tanks at 5:30pm today. With the weather going back to normal over the next 2 weeks we are expecting a good season. Weiss Woods is now ready to go for the 2015 sugaring season.
Weather remained warm with highs close to 60 degrees that last 2 days. Almost all of the snow is now melted. One week ago the high was 10 degrees. Now we are hoping of a cool down so the sap flow can start. On March 10th Bruce finished tapping the home woods except for the island. There was around 15 gallons of sap in the tank. Brent walked the black drain lines off the hills in the Harmon woods to make sure they were in good condition. He found one location where a tree had fallen onto the line and it had to be chainsawed off. On Tuesday Nite Brad and Dave participated in a meet the vendor nite in Lakeville MN. We sold $186 of syrup and had a fun time meeting our customers from CHC. Today brent reported that the sap is dribbling along since we had a light freeze last nite - 29 degrees for about an hour - The home woods is now all tapped and the tank has about 125 gallons of sap. (on a good running day we get over 1000 gallons so this means the trees aren’t quite ready yet). Brent is available to tap the big woods (Harmon Woods) after 3:30 pm thursday and 2:30pm on Friday. Dave, Bruce, Jim and possibly Brad will be tapping on Friday. We should be able to finish tapping by Sunday - approximately 4500-5000 taps. Based on the current forecast there is a cool down starting next wednesday so that is when the hard work pays off.
After a low of minus 15 degrees on March 5th the weather finally warmed to above freezing on March 7th and 8th. There was a difference of 45 degrees between March 5th and March 7th. It’s time to get things ready for the sap run which should be starting by the end of this week - March 13th. Highs are forecasted to be in the 50’s the rest of the week. All of the snow in the fields should be melted this week - quite unusual. On Saturday we put the 2 1500 gallons in the Arkansaw creek bottoms and rolled out the 1″ and 1.25″ drain lines. We finished that about noon and then worked on redoing the original section of the Harmon woods which was tubed in the fall of 1997. Our new process is to use drops that are about 33 inches long and clear disposable spiles. At the end of the season you cut off the spile and recycle them. They cost about 16 cents each but ensure the tap hole will remain fresh for the entire season. There were many new trees added in. We also added a 400′ 3/4″ main line into this section. This will help the sap flow easier and will increase the output. Working on Saturday was Kevin, Eric, Mike, Dave, Brent, Bruce, Jim and Vinnie Cognetta. On Sunday we finished up the rework section about 2pm with the addition of Brad and minus Kevin, Mike and Eric. We then moved to the home woods to start tapping. We had 3 tapping crews and did about 800 taps in 3 hours. We used our Makita rechargable drills which are easy to use - much better than our old gas powered Tanaka drills. Bruce was going to finish up on Monday - 300 more taps to go in the home woods. Then we can start tackling the big woods.
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