Geauga County OSU Extension
Without a doubt, fall is my favorite time of the year. It is time when all of the hard work of spring and summer comes to together as you harvest the returns for your efforts. It is also a time when the Maple tree goes into dormancy. This means that the maple syrup season is only a few months away. Fall is the best time of the year for planning and making alterations to your maple sugaring operation. You can take the time to carefully plan out what changes are needed before you start the Spring rush.
As soon as the leaves fall you need to get into the woods and take a good look at your operation. Has there been storm damage to you tubing or are your trails blocked. Many producers already have their sugar wood cut for the 2015 season, however the storm damaged wood can quickly be stock piled for 2016. Major damage to your tubing needs to be repaired this Fall. As you look over the situation it might be a good idea to see if you can improve on your current system. This is a good idea even if you do not have damage. Maybe there was a trouble spot last spring that just did not seem to move sap as well as in the other parts of the woods. If it was at the end of a very long mainline maybe there is a way to shorten up that line. It might be possible by extending a wet/dry line further into the woods or increase the diameter of the existing mainline. It is also a good time to look at how you are distributing your vacuum (CFM’s) across the woods. I covered the allocation method used in the NY State Tubing and Vacuum Notebook in an earlier article (How Do I Get Vacuum Where I Need It) posted under the tag “Vacuum”, on the Ohio Maple Blog. One thing to always keep in mind is that if you make a change to your system be sure that you thoroughly research the impact that the change will have on the entire system. Here is an example of a change that could greatly impact the performance of your vacuum system.
Let’s assume you are running 1000 taps on a 35 CFM Vacuum Pump. Under the present system you are able to supply all of the taps with at least 18 inches of mercury out to the longest line in the woods. If you follow the standard rules for vacuum utilization every 100 taps would utilize 1 cfm. The system works because you are using 10 cfm on the pipeline, 5 cfm to run the vacuum releaser and 2 cfm to counteract the distance from the vacuum pump to the releaser. That is only half of your available CFM. This gives you plenty of vacuum (cfm) to overcome leaks and other problems. Now you decide that you can add 300 taps but to do so you will need to install a sap left that requires no less than 7 CFM to run. In this case, you would be taking away another 10 CFM (lift 7 + 300 taps 3) from the main pipeline. We are now up to 27 CFM utilization. Now with only 8 CFM to spare we will have to be very careful to make sure all of the leaks are sealed and that the pipeline is sized correctly. If not you could be headed for a serious drop in Inches of Mercury on your longest lines. One more word of caution, most Vacuum pump CFM ratings are determined at sea level. We do not run our pumps at sea level. Most sugarbushes in Ohio are 500 to 1000 feet above sea level. This means that you may not have as many available CFMS’ as you thought.
All of this comes into play when you are planning to make changes to your maple sugaring operation especially your vacuum system. If you have questions or want to learn more about maple systems I strongly recommend that you plan on attending the 3rd Annual Lake Erie Maple Expo in Albion Pennsylvania, Friday November 7th and Saturday November 8th. On Friday you will have chance to learn from professionals. If you are installing tubing you will want to attend Jason Grossman’s class on Tubing installation Jason is a sugarmaker and a professional tubing installer. He has installed tubing from Minnesota to Maine and several provinces in Canada. His installation technique is considered to be one of the best in the country. Also on Friday you will have a chance to attend a Vacuum Systems Management Class taught by Steve Childs NY State Maple Syrup Specialist and the author of the NY State Tubing and Vacuum Notebook. This is a must read for anyone using and running a vacuum tubing system. Steve will go over many of the topics that he has written about in his notebook. A full list of the Friday and Saturday programs and registration information will be listed on the LEME page of this b