Ministry extension and syrup producers are testing a portable luminometer that is on loan from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Inspection Branch. The objective is to conduct swab tests of mainlines, lateral lines and drop lines to measure tube cleanliness in the sugar bush. Several syrup producers and researchers in Quebec have been using a similar luminometer to determine the effectiveness of their sap tube cleaning programs.
The luminometer measures the combined total organic material (food residues and microbial populations) collected from a swabbed surface. The device measures luminescence of a material that reacts with ATP in a swab sample. ATP (adenosine-5-triphosphate) is a substance found in all living cells, including food, bacteria, yeast and mould cells.
In Ontario, preliminary measurements in drop lines and lateral tubing have shown variable results for cleanliness among producers. At a recent June workshop conducted in the Quinte area, the luminometer measured that a sanitizing treatment of Isopropyl alcohol using 70% alcohol/water mixture maintained sap tubing in a clean condition, when applied at the recommended amount of 15 millilitres per spile or drop line. Additional testing with the luminometer may help to improve current methods of cleaning and sanitation of vacuum tube collection systems.