Simpson's Rocky Ridge Maple Syrup
Maple Production Tour
Setting up Tubing lines:
The faster Maple sap can be collected and cooked, the better the quality of syrup. At Rocky Ridge many of our trees are connected to tubing lines to reduce labor costs and to get the sap to the cooker as fast as possible. Setting up and repairing the tubing lines takes place in late winter prior to the first sap run.
Individual trees are attached to 3/8 inch plastic lines called branch lines. Up to 10 trees may be attached to one branch line.
Branch lines run down hill and are connect to 1 inch plastic pipes called mainlines.
Mainlines channel the sap down hill to central collecting stations.
A vacuum system consisting of a pump and releaser draws the sap from the trees into the collection tank.
As the days warm and the snow begins to melt, its time to start thinking about tapping the trees. We usually tap our sugar bush near the middle of March. The exact time depends on the season’s weather. Tapping in consists of drilling a 5/16 inch – 3/8 inch hole about 1 ½ inches deep in each tree. The size and depth of the hole depends on the size of the tree.
Larger trees, 18 or more inches in diameter will have two tap holes. A spout or spile is then inserted and tapped into each hole and a bucket, bag, or drop line is then attached to the spile.
The Maple sap will run as temperatures thaw after a good freeze. Ideal conditions are freezing nights with day time temperatures in the 40 to 50 degree range. A couple day cold snap with a few inches of wet snow thrown in really provides a boost in sap production.
During a good sap run, trees will run at a rate of 100-180 drops per minute. At this rate a 3 gallon bag or bucket can fill up in just one day.
As soon as the bags or pails are ½ full, its time to start collecting the sap.
Early in the season, when snow depths are 2 feet or more, this task often involves using snow shoes, snowmobiles, and crawlers.
After enough sap has been collected its time to start the evaporators and begin cooking.
It takes between 30 and 40 gallons of sap, depending on the season, to make one gallon of Pure Maple Syrup.
Because processing the sap quickly helps make better quality syrup, at Rocky Ridge we have two wood fired evaporators that can cook down over 300 gallons of sap per hour. Using wood reduces our costs and reduces our dependence on oil sources.
The aroma of the sweet sap boiling in the evaporator pans is enough to make everyone hungry for a taste. Early in the season, freshly cooked syrup is drawn of the evaporator and poured on fresh snow for a real Maple treat.
After a good sap run, cooking often goes on late into the night in order to get all the sap boiled down while it is still fresh.