Thistleblooms Rambles

Bruce

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Welcome @WildBird ! Do you know where you are relative to @thistlebloom ?

There is a guy here who taps about 15-25 trees that already has his lines out. I think he is way too far ahead, but he's a bit a of a know it all..... I haven't heard how things look in Highland County where all the serious sugar camps are. We had all that super warm weather too, and you can even see the little bit of a reddish tint on some of the trees where they were almost ready to start "spring"..... This week we have had night time temps in the teens and every thing has frozen pretty good.
If the trees are starting to get red on the new branch ends, the guy is way too late. Nasty flavor maple sap after they start that. Sugar season starts whenever the trees say it does. Historically it would be in March though has sometimes started in February. I THINK last year some people had a week or so in January before the trees went back to sleep. Pretty much need to have nights below freezing and days above freezing to get the "pump" running. Once it stays above freezing, the season is over.

Around here the lines are left up year round, way too much time needed to run them all plus, if you have a big snow year, no way you could trudge through it to get all the lines set up before the trees start producing. Of course there is also work to make sure the squirrels haven't chewed the lines. Most serious producers up here now use vacuum to draw out the sap and reverse osmosis to remove a fair bit of the water from the sap before boiling.
 

farmerjan

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Sorry, I didn't specify that it wasn't the maples that were starting to show a little reddish color, it was a couple of other trees that I drive by on my way up to the nurse cow pasture (snyders). Those trees always show color earlier than others, but I mentioned it because it was WAY TOO EARLY for ANYTHING to be thinking spring. Don't know what kind they are off hand.

The squirrels do a number on the lines here too. The commercial guys do leave their lines up all year, and do have to spend time walking them to check them. Right here we have had trouble with the bears tearing them up. I think that this guy is tapping a different group of trees this year because the lines are in a different section than they were last year. He just does it for their own personal use I think.

There are a couple that use vacuum to draw the sap, and there is one that I know of that uses reverse osmosis also. In fact, in Highland county, there are about 6-8 that do it commercially and there are several different styles done. Because sugaring is such a HUGE draw to Highland County, drawing an average of 50-80,000 visitors in the 2 weekends, with craft shows/sales, and other things, there are several that do it differently in order to have something "unique" to draw people to their particular sugar camp. It is the biggest money raising activity for the whole county, with the different fire depts having pancake breakfasts, trout dinners, all the churches and kiwanis and every school has food or something. Highland is over an hour off the beaten path here. 2 lane roads in and out and over a mountain to get there from most anywhere. It is called "Little Switzerland" due to the "microcosm" of the growth/temps etc. That is why the sugar maples do so good there. There are no commercial operations in any other part of Va that I am aware of. The Highland Maple Festival is now in it's 61st or 62nd year. I've been to about 30 of them I guess, I've been in Va since 1981 and have missed a few years.
 

High Desert Cowboy

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We’ve barely had any snow on the ground this year but our snowpack on the mountain is at 95%. How high up the mountain are you? And there’s still plenty of time for snow to fly, the last few years we’ve had almost nothing until February then it comes down enough to actually hang around for a few weeks in the valleys.
 

thistlebloom

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I'm in a valley. 2479' or something like that. I can never remember those last two digits, haha. I don't know the percentage of snowpack in the mountains. It's probably not too far from optimum. The weather people were saying we might not see any snow through Feb. with these warm temps and rain. But that's a WA station, what do they know? 😬
Our seasons have been doing the same, slow to start and slow to stop. Last year we got smothered in February. I anticipate that will probably be the case again, a late huge dump of snow.
It's actually snowing right now, huge half dollar flakes. Yay! Covers up all the coffee grounds I've been tossing on the flower bed out the front door.
 
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