Eric and I finished our maple season here in Kinburn, just outside of Ottawa Ontario about a week ago. We tapped a total of 72 trees, which is the highest number since we started a few years ago. It was a shorter season this year, only lasting two weeks before we had a record breaking week of warm temperatures in the high 20s. We made a total of 20L of syrup, which is enough for ourselves plus a few jars for our family. We were hoping to sell some this year for the first time, but with the season being shorter we are unable to.
This year we improved our process in a couple ways. The main one was to purchase a pre-heating pan that warms up the sap before it drips into the evaporator. This significantly reduced boiling time since the sap entering the evaporator wasn't ice cold like last year. The other improvement we made was with the sap collections. The buckets with sap get very heavy quickly and you always overestimate how much you can carry back to the shack. This year I collected from the trees and left the collection buckets along the trail and had Eric do the heavy work of carrying it back to the shack. It seemed to go much faster, well for me anyways.
We did learn a valuable lesson though, don't remove your buckets from the trees if it warms up for a week. After an extremely warm week mid-March, we removed all the buckets and closed up the shack for the year. Right after we did this the temperatures dropped below freezing in the evenings, making for a good week of sap production. In order to get a good sap flow, you want freezing temperatures at night and above zero during the day. This week would have been perfect for it, but it would have been too much work to put all the buckets back out again. Lesson learned!