Goodbye 2020 - Let’s get the 2021 season started!!!

While 2020 was a challenging year by any account, you may recall (before the pandemic shut things down) it was actually a pretty good year in the sugar shack. Even with some iffy 2020 winter weather, we had a decent year producing over 50 gallons of our small batch maple syrup and then aging 25 gallons of that in freshly emptied bourbon barrels to produce nearly 500 bottles of Springboro Tree Farms Bourbon Barrel Aged syrup…

…but like most of you, we are “more than ready” to put 2020 behind us and to that end we’re getting a jump start on our 2021 sugaring season.

Clearing and repairing sap lines

For starters we’ve been in the field clearing limbs from the sap lines, repairing damaged lines, replacing spiles and just getting things organized a bit better. Numbering the lines will help with maintenance work thru the season. Sort of our version of the ol’ “clean up on Isle 6” thing. Numbered Lines

Production-wise our main focus will again be on the 315 taps (on 15 lines) we have just behind and to the south of the sugar shack. For the last two seasons these lines have provided the entirety of our production. It’s been more than enough and super-efficient since all of those lines are plumbed back to our main collection facility just below the sugar shack.

More lines and more taps

That said, we sort of miss some of the old-school methods of collecting sap with a run in the ATV or tractor and are hoping to re-open our lines to the north. These lines will bring another 50 trees into the process. Then if we get really crazy we might also re-open a really nice stand of sugar maple trees over by the apiary. Which – speaking of old school – would be on collection bags (vs lines).

Walnut coming back?

Don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret – but we are also looking into re-connecting a few walnut lines this season. In addition to a couple of walnut 3/16 inch lines to the north we may also tap a very productive field of walnut trees down by the river. These would most likely be on the old bag collection method. 

We are also cWalnut Groveonsidering testing the viability of tapping the walnut trees in the walnut grove we planted in 1992. Many of these trees are now large enough to tap and may provide an efficient way to collect more walnut sap than ever when tapped using 3/16th inch gravity vacuum lines. There are about 200 trees in this grove so it will be interesting to see if our latest crazy idea works. Stay tuned for more on this adventure. 

As you may recall, walnut syrup is a favorite around here but it can be a bit of a challenge to produce. While the tapping and collection process is the same as with maple syrup, walnut syrup is more difficult and time consuming to finish. But since we’ve not produced any for a couple of years now we’re thinking we might take a run at a small batch in 2021.

So - there’s a lot going on out in the field for sure.

In the Sugar Shack

Meanwhile up at the sugar shack we’ve made a few changes on our sap and water storage facilities in our never-ending efforts to make the whole process more efficient. Some of these changes are related to one big change we’re making inside the sugar shack: for 2021 we have upgraded our Reverse Osmosis (RO) machine. (We'll tell you more about this new piece of equipment in a future article.) As you may know our RO process extracts pure water from the raw sap…which in turn increases the sugar content of the sap…which in turn reduces required evaporator (boiling) time. Our existing RO system has served us well but we had an opportunity to upgrade that equipment to a system with a higher flow rate…which allows us to extract more water…which requires more water storage facilities. But it’s all good as we continue to explore the leading edge of small batch maple syrup production.

So there you have it. 2020 is in the rear view mirror, the collection lines are in good shape, a couple of important equipment upgrades are coming together nicely, a few new maple and walnut trees are in our sights - and the firewood is all cut and split.

We hope you enjoy coming along with us for the 2021 season.