Maple Syrup Production Report for February 25 to March 4, 2013

Previous week summary

Many maple syrup producers across the province were very busy tapping their sugar bushes while temperatures were favourable for drilling and installing spiles. Many of the largest producers completed their tapping by the end of the week.

In earliest areas of south western Ontario, the first three sap runs were collected February 11, 12 and 18, and boiled into syrup. Sap sugar concentrations ranged from 2.4 °Brix in soft maple to 3.0 °Brix in hard maple. Syrup was extra light in colour and excellent maple flavour. Some sap flow occurred in later areas of the province but not enough to boil.

Sap flow forecast for the coming week

The long range weather forecast indicates that a snow or rain front will be moving across the province, temperatures will hover near freezing and below freezing early in the week and is not expected to bring any significant sap flow. Temperatures will become colder to below freezing by the coming weekend which will also delay sap flow.

Since sap flow will be delayed for the week, it will be a good opportunity for producers to focus on the sugar house and equipment readiness.

Atmospheric pressure and sap flow predictions

Good sap flow also depends on atmospheric pressure. Low or falling atmospheric pressure will bring on higher volumes of sap flow during freeze & thaw temperatures, due to a larger pressure difference between the inner tree and outside air. High atmospheric pressure or rising pressure results in a lower pressure difference between the inner tree and outside air, which usually leads to low volumes of sap. Therefore, when you are watching the long range weather forecast for sap flow events, also keep an eye on the barometer to give you an idea of sap volume to expect.

Proper tapping temperatures

For best tapping conditions, do not drill tap holes into frozen trees as this can damage the tree when spouts are tapped into the freshly drilled holes. Damage results in splitting of bark above and below the tap hole. Wait until temperatures are above -5 ?C and have been above – 5 ?C for a sufficient amount of time to allow the trees to thaw.

Cleaning and sanitation

With the syrup production season just beginning, maple producers are reminded to maintain sap collection and processing equipment in a clean and sanitary condition as best as possible. Brushing and thorough rinsing with warm or hot potable water can provide effective cleaning of evaporators and sap handling equipment if thoroughly completed after each use. The use of sanitizing and cleaning chemicals in flue pans and in syrup finishing pans during the syrup processing season should only be used if absolutely necessary.

Where chemical cleaners and sanitizers are used for commercial syrup production, the products must be registered for use by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Using only approved products is important to prevent the use of inappropriate chemical cleaners that may be too harsh for the equipment being cleaned, corrosive or too risky to the producer. A list of approved cleaners and sanitizers can be found on the CFIA website – Materials used for the collection, storage and processing of maple products are as follows (and always read the label):

Cleaners used in the collection, storage and processing of maple products

Peroxyde d’Hydrogene 35%
Bio-Purge WD-4100 – Cleaning Agent for Maple Syrup Equipments and Tubings
Nettoie-Tube
Nettoie-Panne
Membrane Alcaline Detergent (Liquid)
Super Clean – Cleaner
Tub-Ultra-Net
Tub-O-Net
Top-Net
Pan-O-Net
Roby-Tube Extra
Péroxyde d’hydrogène 35%

Sanitizers used in the collection, storage and processing of maple products

ISO-70
ISO Alcool 70%
ISO ALCOOL

This message was prepared by Todd Leuty, Agroforestry Specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Maple syrup producers are welcome to contribute to the maple production agriphone by providing sap flow reports and syrup quality reports to todd.leuty@ontario.ca . Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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