The Season Has Begun - The Race to Maple Syrup is On!

by Don 3/7/2021 2:40:00 PM

Temperatures have been warmer than average for early March and we began collecting sap on March 2nd. The initial best flows come from the southern exposed trees, which bask in spring sun early in the season. 

One of our first tasks is to walk the entire sugarbush looking for any leaks in the tubing, or loose spiles in the trees. The vacuum pump can generate a potential vacuum of 28-29 inches of mercury. When I first turned on the pump we were at a disappointing 10 inches!!!!! This meant a major leak, or multiple minor leaks throughout the sugarbush. We walked the woods, listening for the high-pitched whistle, signaling a leak. They are most often due to squirrels chewing on the tubing, maybe sensing delicious sweet sap. The damaged tubing  is replaced, or if it's minimal, we can wrap cold weather electrical tape to seal it!!!Fortunately, we don't seem to have any damage to the tubing from deer roaming the property. 

The next 10-12 days look very favorable for sap flows.  We have begun processing the first 1300 gallons of sap we've collected. Today we will see how our evaporator runs for the 2021 season. Check back to see the results!


Here Comes the Sun - and soon the SAP of 2021!

by Don 2/26/2021 3:52:00 PM

  This is the time of year that I start singing this Beatle's song, notice a quickening in my pace, and appreciate the coming of a new syruping season. 

  The isolation during this COVID-19 period has given us generous time to almost leisurely prepare for this season. All 1200 taps are in, due in large part to our son, Peter, and grandchildren, Jack and Greta. The equipment is all operational and has been shined to showroom condition. 

  We have culled some of the aging trees that have suffered the consequences of multiple years of excess moisture.  Turnover in the forest is expected, but much like the Big Woods of Nerstrand State Park, in southern Minnesota, we have seen more trees dying or looking stressed. We still have a robust forest of maple, and the thinning of trees allows some of the younger maples to flourish.

  We continue to practice the annual replacement of spiles and any drop lines that have squirrel damage. Producers who don't replace spiles each year see reduced yield, due to bacteria on the old spile. This stimulates the tree to begin the healing process prematurely at the tap hole.  Once again, adoption of best practices provides us with the greatest opportunity for a superior product. 

  We turn on the vacuum system whenever the temperature reaches 32 degrees. Even though we have hit 40 degrees for short periods, the first flows are delayed and more of a trickle. After a slight dip in temperatures this weekend, a warmup is forecast, which looks very favorable for sap flow. Last year our first boil of sap was March 6th, so we're right on track.

  If you are thinking of tapping some maples in your yard, I would do it now.

  Recheck this blog for updates on our syrup season!


Fini, Complete, Through, End!

by Don 4/15/2020 3:06:00 PM

Whatever word we choose, the result remains the same. The 2020 maple syrup season at Somerskogen has come to an end. Our last collection of sap was on April 6th, exactly one month after our first collection of the season. 

We made our last syrup on April 7th, finishing with 643 gallons of syrup on 1200 taps. As the season progressed, we noted a drop in the sugar content of the sap from 2% to 1.4%, which then required 61 gallons of sap to make one gallon of finished syrup. If not for our reverse osmosis , which removes 75% of the water before we start boiling, the last day would have been beyond tedious! All of this year's maple syrup was very full-flavored and the majority is designated Amber Rich - "amber" for the color and "rich" for the taste.

As I mentioned, we set a new record of 643 gallons and it was a test of our system, as Mary and I handled the season amid the social distancing required during the pandemic. Family and friends were unable to join us in what is usually a joyful, communal season of syrup!

All of our taps have been removed and preliminary cleanup is underway. We find we save the outdoor tasks for the glorious warm, sunny days of April (when they appear!)

We have received a record number of orders, perhaps because people across the nation have been enjoying forced eating at home.   We also received  orders from Colorado after a television station aired the Somerskogen feature made by Ron Shara Productions - known around Minnesota as Minnesota Bound. In Colorado it was aired on the outdoor show "Due North". This was quite a surprise and we were happy to hear Colorado heard about Somerskogen Sugarbush!

We hope you are able to remain healthy, as we remain in the Twilight Zone, caused by the pandemic. We are ready and able to ship maple syrup at this time, so place your orders soon. We have the 2020 season bottled up in plastic pints, quarts, half-gallons and gallons, so you can enjoy the 2020 vintage - probably the best tasting maple syrup we've produced. We'll be bottling more of the 2020 season in the next few weeks.

We look forward to keeping in touch with you! Thanks for reading the Somerskogen blog this spring!