For the last few years, we’ve talked about mapping out our maple trees — we track which ones we tap, when we tap them, and occasionally try to track how much sap the tree produced. Which is difficult when the tree is labeled as “second down from planter on driveway” or “the next, next one by neighbor”. It seemed like we should be able to use our phones to tag each location — ideally while there are still leaves on the trees so we could denote them as sugar, red, etc.
We settled on an open source app that uses Open StreetMap — https://github.com/osmandapp/OsmAnd/ — there’s no convenient way for Scott and I to simultaneously edit the data set, but we can export the file on one phone and import it onto the other so we are both looking at the same points. Each tree is numbered, and there is a note with the type of tree and how many taps.
Now we know we are at tree #27 (the phone’s location will show up as a blue dot).
Instead of taps with a hook for a bucket (which seemed, to me, like it would put a lot of stress on the tree!), we use ratchet straps to hold our maple buckets. One end of the “S” is passed into the fabric loop that holds the other “S” — and that other “S” becomes our bucket hook. I like the bright orange straps because it makes finding trees in the woods very easy (bright white buckets look obvious too, but they can hide behind the tree).
Our first set of buckets has large holes drilled into the lids — which are great for larger trees with multiple taps. But the new buckets we bought this year have tube-sized holes to prevent rain from leaking into the bucket.
We tapped trees for the last few days and have our first sap collection — thirteen five-gallon buckets (not completely full, but around 4.5 gallons per bucket … so not 65 gallons but at least 58.5 gallons) waiting to run through the reverse osmosis.
This year, our starting sap measured around 1.006-1.008 SG at around 50 degrees. The reverse osmosis is running at just under 100 psi (at 100 psi, we are not getting any sugar water out). The output sugar water is measuring at 1.022 … which is 3.7 times as concentrated as before we filtered the sap.
The flow rate is about a gallon every ten minutes, or six gallons an hour.
Anya likes to thank the maple trees with a hug — sap is flowing as we tap the trees.
We started tapping the maple trees for the year — we have a couple of (really!) warm days but it looks like we are going to have quite a few freeze/thaw cycles over the next ten days.
The big sugar maple in our front yard has budded out — no more sap from it this year!