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Maple Syrup 2019

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by kingOFgEEEks, Jan 11, 2019.

?

How many taps this year?

  1. 10 or less

    25.0%
  2. 11-50

    16.7%
  3. 50-100

    25.0%
  4. 100 plus

    33.3%
  1. kingOFgEEEks

    kingOFgEEEks Pinnacle OPE Member

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    I figured that time of year is coming again, so let's start a new thread for our favorite time of year.

    Here in north-central PA, we finally got a decent cold snap going. Hopefully the trees are resting up, and in a few weeks I can go out and start tapping and repairing my lines from last year.

    This year's plan is to run about 30 taps, and make somewhere between 3-5 gallons of finished syrup. I made a little more than 3 gallons last year, and converted some of it to maple sugar. Once I get 2019 syrup put up, I'll take any leftover, and convert all of it to sugar. Mrs. Geek uses it just like brown sugar in her baking, and it's fantastic!
     
  2. stihl livin

    stihl livin Pinnacle OPE Member

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  3. Steve Taylor

    Steve Taylor Super OPE Member

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    Now I am getting the itch already.
    Might have to start getting things cleaned up and ready.
     
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  4. kingOFgEEEks

    kingOFgEEEks Pinnacle OPE Member

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    If the weather is nice, I might go brush out my sugar bush a little this weekend. Definitely getting the itch as well!
     
  5. Ryan Browne

    Ryan Browne Pinnacle OPE Member

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    I was in the sugar bush all day today. We've been having warm sunny weather and there's no snow on the ground, so I've been bucking and splitting firewood. I should probably be actually working in the woods, but I'm behind schedule on this firewood project, so I'm getting after it now. Hopefully we're still two months away from tapping here. I've got a lot to get done in the meantime.
     
  6. Ryan Browne

    Ryan Browne Pinnacle OPE Member

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    Here was my progress for today. Had some interruptions, so I didn't get to work as long as I wanted, but I'm happy. Mostly ash. Probably split a cord or a little more.

    If you zoom in you can see some sap tubing, so hopefully not a true derail. :) rps20190111_214903_769.jpg
     
  7. beaglebriar

    beaglebriar Mastermind Approved!

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    I can't decide wether I'll tap this year or not. We haven't used as much syrup this year as we normally do so there's still a good stock in the basement.

    Plus the weather has been absolute shít so I probably should focus on firewood while the ground is good.
     
  8. Steve Taylor

    Steve Taylor Super OPE Member

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    So I just found a bunch more taps used.
    Dose anyone have a good idea for a cheap evaporator of some kind.
     
  9. Ryan Browne

    Ryan Browne Pinnacle OPE Member

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    How many taps are you gonna put out? How nice are your trees also, big yard sugar maples or little red maples in the woods?



    Also, if anyone else is looking for taps, let me know. I've still got several dozen around here that I'll never use again. I won't be hanging any buckets anymore.
     
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  10. Flint Mitch

    Flint Mitch Pinnacle OPE Member

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    My property is mostly large sugar maple trees. I've been talking about trying my hand at syrup but haven't pulled the trigger on any supplies or anything. I should probably do a little reading first. Any suggestions? I would like to try it on the cheap first, maybe I can find some used equipment?

    Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Ryan Browne

    Ryan Browne Pinnacle OPE Member

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    My suggestion would be to definitely start small. The rule of thumb for hanging buckets (as opposed to vacuum tubing) is that you'll make about a quart of syrup per tap. So, start with a dozen taps or so. Making 2-3 gallons your first season would be a great way to put some in the pantry and give away a few pints.

    It's pretty cheap to make a DIY setup for making under 30 gallons per year. At the small end, you can buy a couple of hotel steam pans very cheap and build an arch (syrup word for firebox) out of cinder blocks or fire brick. You can also use a turkey burner, but you'll spend as much on propane as the syrup will be worth, so I don't recommend that unless you only want to tap 2 or 3 trees. If you want to go a little bigger, you can cut up an old oil drum and make a decent arch out of that. Simple stainless pans can be fabbed up locally for a couple hundred dollars. There's actually a woman near here who used to run 800 taps all on two rigs like that. I think they had two cookers both 4'x8' with flat pans.

    Personally, I think if you want to go bigger than an oil barrel cooker, you'd better be ready to commit, or you need a lot of firewood. Flat pan setups usually net about 10 gallons of syrup per full cord of wood. Going to a purpose built evaporator will bring that number up to 25. But, those rigs are expensive. You're talking $2500 used for a 2x6 on the low end.

    There is actually some cool stuff going on with reverse osmosis machines. Big operations use them to bring that number of gallons per cord up over 100, and the big ones are many thousands of dollars BUT there's guess building mini versions from home depot parts for a few hundred dollars. I imagine a guy could build a very small cooker and a small RO and actually make 50 gallons pretty economically.

    Anyway, start small and have fun. Don't get in too deep your first year. Make sure to visit as many other syrup operations as you can. You'll learn a ton and get a better idea what's involved. Oh, and get yourself a good filter and a hydrometer. They're not expensive. If you want some used taps for hanging buckets, send me a PM.
     
  12. Steve Taylor

    Steve Taylor Super OPE Member

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    I am not going to get carried away. I have been offered more trees than I will deal with. I was thinking more along the lines of a cheap pan idea.
    Did all of the cooking last year in my two stock pots. It got the job done but it was slow.
    I only make enough for family and friends, mostly because I enjoy it for some reason.
     
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  13. kingOFgEEEks

    kingOFgEEEks Pinnacle OPE Member

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    I agree with Ryan, you can make a nice small setup with steam pans and a barrel stove. Or, you can go headfirst and end up with thousands of dollars invested in a big hurry.
     
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  14. Steve Taylor

    Steve Taylor Super OPE Member

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    Yup steam pans. I will have to check that out. Was already planning on a barrel stove. Thanks
     
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  15. Scotty Overkill

    Scotty Overkill Serial Tree Killer

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    I'm hoping to dig out my gear and make a big batch this winter, all depends on Mother Nature.....

    Usually put out 125 taps, and if I get 2-3 weeks of good run, I can make around 25-30 gallons of syrup. Haven made it in 3 years thanks to horrible temps.
     
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  16. Ryan Browne

    Ryan Browne Pinnacle OPE Member

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    I bought a used 2x10 cooker in 2012. When I upgraded in 2017 I sold it to a couple guys an hour away. They had never made syrup before, but jumped in with all four feet. 3 grand on a vacuum pump, close to 10 grand on tubing, 7 on an RO, 3 on a filter press, 4 on the cooker, 30 on a building with a big power service and floor drains, hot water, etc.

    They had planned to sell it all retail in pints for $10. Turns out their woods are pretty lame. Lots of red maples, mostly under 10" in a swamp. In '17 they ran 600 taps and made less syrup than I did on 400. Last year they made 600 gallons on 2100 taps, and they also swapped cookers for a brand new oil fired 3x12 (probably a 15-20k rig). Also, selling thousands of pints didn't really pan out, so they're stuck selling bulk syrup at a time when it's almost at an all time low.

    Just a cautionary tale. Those guys make plenty of money at their day jobs, so I don't think they're worried about it, but you can see that the equipment dealers are pretty eager to lend money and sign you up for lots of debt.
     
  17. Johnmn

    Johnmn Pinnacle OPE Member

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    Ryan I might be interested in some more taps. What style and size are they?
     
  18. Ryan Browne

    Ryan Browne Pinnacle OPE Member

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    I have a few different styles of old metal taps. They all use 7/16 holes. I also have a couple dozen brand new plastic 7/16 taps, the kind that just accept a hose. And I have tons of 5/16 taps that have been used one year.
     
  19. Tbrown

    Tbrown Super OPE Member

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    @Ryan Browne I work with a guy from over your way. He has a RO and fancy cooker. I asked him tonight and he said he can run 1200 gallons of sap per hour. That's with the RO cutting to 25% and the cooker going through 300 gallons per hour with everything running smoothly.
     
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  20. Dustin4185

    Dustin4185 Pinnacle OPE Member

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    A buddy runs a few taps here in east TN. He uses steam pans on this cooker he built himself. He used to be a welder but now is a Mr Green jeans like myself. He ended up with a few gallons a couple years ago. He is always on the lookout for good trees around here.

    D32FAF1B-BAB4-4379-A6D0-CAB1AF0A4F7B.jpeg
     
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