Anyone Tapping Yet?

When to tap?  That is the question.  And when it comes to maple sugaring, that is THE question.  Currently, we are in the holding position at our Mansfield sugarbush and thankful for the cold temperatures that have descended on the region.  The longer the woods stay cold, the closer our trees will get to meeting their chilling requirement, and the more optimistic I will be when we do eventually start our season.  Put simply, if trees don’t sleep well, they can wake up cranky!

When we look to the south along the Ohio River, I see more good signs of zero accumulated growing degree days since the start of the year.  Note, this does not account for any warm spells we had around Christmas.

With that map in mind, a peek at online chat forums like the Maple Trader’s Ohio Forum reveals that several folks are already tapped in part or in full (January 2nd in Ross County, another early report out of Muskingum County).  Looking even further south to states like Kentucky and West Virginia, only early tappers were rewarded with last year’s ultra-warm and sporadic 2023 season.  That likely pushed some producers to move their tapping date earlier on the calendar.  Still, others are crossing their fingers that last year was an anomaly and going with a more traditional schedule again for 2024.

Taking the forecast up top at face value and speaking directly to our Mansfield site, there aren’t many (if any) quality freeze-thaw cycle days for a truly big run in the next 2 weeks.  If we do decide to tap in a week or so, we should at least get all our lines flushed and spot check the vacuum on the system while we wait for better conditions to kick things fully in gear.

Come back next week for a post from Les Ober where he discusses the question of tap timing and the effects of El Nino as we all wring our hands and stare into muddy crystal balls in search of the right answer to our question!

6 thoughts on “Anyone Tapping Yet?

  1. We’re tapped and have made a little over 40 gallons of syrup. The brix of sap is definitely low. But I’m optimistic that coming out of this cold snap things will flow well. I don’t believe that organisms will grow right that’s at least a positive.

    • Where are you located Bob, county? For sure, temperatures this cold will stall out any sanitation issues. The heavy rains we’ve gotten should have conditions loaded up for some good runs once this thaw hits, and hopefully that Brix # comes up for you. Good luck the rest of season!

    • There is more we don’t know than do with regards to chilling requirements, but most estimates put the hours near 2500 for sugar maples. Anything less than that – meaning winter was cold enough and long enough – has been shown to delay bud emergence for most trees. Think of it as the trees are groggy from not sleeping well. Necessary chilling hours are lower for red maples to stay on schedule. The big question is how insufficient chilling affects factors that sugarmakers are most interested in – sap volume and sap Brix. And we don’t have good answers yet that I’m aware.

  2. I tapped 50 early taps on January 2, 2024. This is a small ridge above my shack that I Have tapped early for probably 6-8 years. To date I collected 287 gallons of sap and made 3.5 gallons of syrup. I have some super sweet drawn off and ready for as pan primer come next week. I am on all 3/16″ natural vacuum. I plan to tap my main woods of 100 taps Monday or Tuesday January 22/23, 2024. My season usually ends by March 7th. The production from those early taps is slightly above average. Last year was an anomaly, as i made syrup all the way through January and quit on Feb. 15th. I no longer make to sell, so I quit when I make a certain goal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *