Lessons in Backyard Maple Sugarin'

| 3/24/2015 10:22:00 AM

Transitional TraditionsLate winter in Wisconsin was bitterly cold. It was so cold in fact, that we hadn't seen a day above freezing for nearly two months. It was assumed all over that spring would not show its face on March 20th and instead wait until about May 1st, like last year.

Then the most amazing thing happened: The second week of March gift-wrapped eight to 10 days of unseasonably warm and gorgeous weather! We went from 17 degrees for a high to 45 in about a day. And it lasted! Not only that, we actually closed in on 65 degrees for a few consecutive, amazing days. Everyone tore open their shutters and threw up their sashes. Bicycles were resurrected early, children crowded playgrounds, and car windows were kept proudly open as people blared peppy music.

With such a surprise warming, us amateur sugarin' folks were caught off-guard. Andy and I missed a solid four days of potential sap before we could get everything together. We have one tree to tap in our yard, a 16-year-old Red Maple. Across the street there are two Norman Maples, one Sugar Maple and three Silver Maples that have tapping potential. The Normans and Sugar are very old (planted when my dad was a boy) and on the tail end of their lifespan. We decided not to tap them this year. We did tap the three Silvers with two taps in each. Total, we have six taps running into blue sap bags.


My father, who lives off the farm in town, has seven or eight large maples trees he wanted to try tapping so we got him buckets and hoses to try tapping with a hose method. He was able to tap seven trees in one morning about a week into the season.


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