Under Pressure

by Richard DeVries

After being cold and frozen, the Sugar Maples at the Arboretum are slowly waking up. The snow and the cold March weather have delayed springtime in the sugarbush. Maybe it seems extra late this year because last year springtime was so early.

South Hill
South Hill

Our south facing hill is warming up and the snow is getting thin. I am expecting most of the snow to disappear on the south hill today. This should help warm up the soil and the trees so they can pick up some moisture.

Pressure Gauge
Pressure Gauge

Yesterday was the first day that the pressure gauge on the south hill gave us a reading. It showed 14 PSI of pressure inside the tree’s trunk. The tree was dripping a little bit of sap in the sap-bag. The pressure gauge on the north hill has not showed us any activity yet.

North Hill
North Hill

The sun is not as strong on the north facing hill and the ground is still covered with snow. Yesterday, in the early afternoon, I could see sap in the tubing at the top of the hill but the same tubing was still frozen at the bottom of the hill. Later that day all the tubing was ice free and the sap started creeping up the sap ladder on its way to the tank. Even with the vacuum system the sap has been coming really slow.

Sweet Sap
Sweet Sap

We need a couple warm, sunny days to warm up the trees and melt some of the snow. We don’t want it too warm, because we still want to get some frosty nights in April. According to our records of past years, we get most of our sap in April. That means there is no need to panic, I keep telling myself.

The forecast looks promising for the next few days.I know it’s dangerous to make any predictions but I expect to be cooking this Saturday. I really hope it works out because it is our last official open house of the season. Even though this is the last official open house, visitors are always welcome to visit the Maple Sugar House to see what we are up to.


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