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Old April 7th, 2018, 10:40 PM
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Default Tapholes drying up? Or just bad weather?

I'm in an area of VT that is by Lake Champlain and is slightly warmer than other areas at higher elevation.

I've got 110 taps on a hybrid 3/16 and mechanical vacuum. I've got steep drop and 25" on my mainline... So at the top of all my laterals I achieve extremely high vacuum levels.

I tapped this year at the end of February - around the 18th or so.

We had a bit of a spell without freezing and things came to a stop a couple weeks ago... But that's to be expected.

What I didn't expect was the trees to basically not do anything meaningful since then.

It's been frozen the last two days, today it was sunny and 37 degrees. I'd expect _some_ sap, right? Nope... Basically 4 gallons. Less than a cup of sap per tap.

What gives? I'm using check valves on all of my taps and I replaced about 10% of my droplines this year.

There have been other days in the past week where it froze slightly the night before and then the next day I get less than a half gallon of sap per tap - that's unusual for me.. Normally it will do over a gallon of sap per tap after a freeze and the only thing that stops the sap running for me is when I pull the taps because it starts to get buddy.

I don't think I'm alone in this - the larger producer I bring sap too tapped at around the same time, doesn't use check valve spouts, and he's seeing the same lack of sap flow. He says another guy nearby is seeing a similar thing.

Any ideas?

I walk the woods and the sap is basically just sitting in the lines (moving very very slowly) - which is fine because that's how I know they don't have leaks, but it's uncanny because on 3/16 the sap normally boggies on down the line even when it's just barely running because the tubing is so thin.

I don't think there's much benefit in pulling my taps or anything yet, so I'll leave them in regardless - but should I expect things to improve or is this what happens when things dry up?

Anyone else seeing anything similar in chittenden county VT?

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  #2  
Old April 8th, 2018, 01:31 AM
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Don't give up yet. Have been having the same thing happen here in Pennsylvania. Just had a couple of days here where the temps were in the mid to upper 30s to 40 and only some dripping. I had just about given up figuring that my tap holes had dried up. About 6:00 last evening I happened to be walking past one of my collection barrels that comes right into my garage. I heard some noise coming from near the barrel and went over to investigate and found the sound to be a steady stream of sap running into the barrel. This morning I found that most of my lines into other barrels had run well last evening until the freeze. They also ran this afternoon with temps only in the mid 30s. Glad I didn't give up. Give them some more time, they might come around like mine did.
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Old April 8th, 2018, 03:04 AM
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I agree with Z/MAN. You probably just need to hit the right weather combination to get things rolling again. I have given up trying to figure it out this year. Buckets need to be collected twice a day at 1 degree above freezing yet nothing happening at plus 5.
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Old April 8th, 2018, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ex View Post
I agree with Z/MAN. You probably just need to hit the right weather combination to get things rolling again. I have given up trying to figure it out this year. Buckets need to be collected twice a day at 1 degree above freezing yet nothing happening at plus 5.
Oh yeah, early season the sap would run like crazy at just one degree above freezing but now it's been locked up like I described.

Definitely a weird year.

I'll hold out and hope for the best. Good to know that I'm not crazy thinking it might kick back in at some point.

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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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Old April 8th, 2018, 08:47 AM
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Ryebrye,

I have had the same situation at my sugar woods in Essex. On March 30, the sap slowed to.18 -.20 gallons of sap per day per tap and stayed the same for 5 more days and the sugar content fell from 1.5 to 1.1%. At my off site woods in Jericho, the sap flow slowed to .5 -.6 gal per tap per day and the sugar content went from 1.5 to .9%. Then yesterday I got basically nothing from my sugar house woods and 22 gallons of sap ( one releaser dump) from 2,220 taps in Jericho. Maybe the trees are trying to tell us something?

Joe
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Old April 8th, 2018, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by ryebrye View Post
It's been frozen the last two days, today it was sunny and 37 degrees. I'd expect _some_ sap, right? Nope... Basically 4 gallons. Less than a cup of sap per tap.
I live just a few miles up the road in Williston (for another 6 wks).

No...I didn't expect much of any sap beyond a little dribble these past several days. Actually told the crew to feel free to take last Thurs/Fri and the weekend off because we wouldn't have any sap....and probably won't before mid-week.

While the AIR temperature these last few days has been above freezing, the nighttime temps have been quite low (teens and low-20s). WOOD temperature doesn't track air temperature exactly. Trees are buffered because they are so large. Think of them like the big piles of snow/ice that get plowed up at the end of the driveway. Just because the air temp got to 37 deg F those piles didn't all melt immediately -- they might have melted a bit. Same with trees. They just barely got warm enough to melt a tiny bit. When the temps get higher for a longer time period, they will thaw out and run again.

It's often a similar type of thing at the end of the season. Air temps might freeze, and be enough to lightly freeze the puddles in your driveway, but the trees don't freeze enough to recharge, so they don't run.
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Old April 8th, 2018, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by DrTimPerkins View Post
I live just a few miles up the road in Williston (for another 6 wks).

No...I didn't expect much of any sap beyond a little dribble these past several days. Actually told the crew to feel free to take last Thurs/Fri and the weekend off because we wouldn't have any sap....and probably won't before mid-week.

While the AIR temperature these last few days has been above freezing, the nighttime temps have been quite low (teens and low-20s). WOOD temperature doesn't track air temperature exactly. Trees are buffered because they are so large. Think of them like the big piles of snow/ice that get plowed up at the end of the driveway. Just because the air temp got to 37 deg F those piles didn't all melt immediately -- they might have melted a bit. Same with trees. They just barely got warm enough to melt a tiny bit. When the temps get higher for a longer time period, they will thaw out and run again.

It's often a similar type of thing at the end of the season. Air temps might freeze, and be enough to lightly freeze the puddles in your driveway, but the trees don't freeze enough to recharge, so they don't run.
Hey Thanks Dr. Tim you answered my question before I even asked. Same problems here in Sugar Camp Wi. Jay
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Old April 9th, 2018, 08:02 PM
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I am glad someone asked the question of if the holes are dried or just bad weather. I read the posts and pretty much answered my questions. But today was 40 degrees and still the same thing. I have the vac running all day and got maybe 50 gallons off 700 taps . I am in the woods right now walking lines and with the vac running at 19 inches,the sap still looks like it is just sitting there. Does it still have to get warmer? The rest of this week is supposed to be upper 40s to 50s. I am trying to go til the weekend. I guess my question is am I a fool for leaving my vac running all day for the rest of the week? Needless to say getting very discouraged that that is it.

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Old April 10th, 2018, 01:42 PM
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I don't think I've heard of anyone in the area who has trees that are running - so whatever is causing the lack of sap it seems to be impacting the entire region.

I got all of 1/100 gallons per tap yesterday.

I guess we'll see in the next couple of days if there is any life left in the season or not.

It's certainly been a strange year.
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2015:
100 taps on 3/16 gravity (+vacuum?) - hauling sap to nearby producer

2014:
Steam pans on natural gas grill (no rig this year)
34 taps on 3/16 gravity + 1 roadside on a bucket
Hauling most of the excess sap to a bigger producer up the road
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Old April 10th, 2018, 06:57 PM
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Pull a couple of taps and look in the holes, if they are black you are done. If they are white you are a go, if they are in between you are probably done. My taps were in between when I pulled them on Sunday, but the reds had given it up.
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