Sap harvest has ended in Ontario
The 2019 maple sap harvest and syrup processing season has come to an end for maple syrup producers. Late northern areas were able to process a few final runs of sap before buddy off-flavours appeared. Although the precise results of syrup production are not tallied yet, maple syrup producers say they are satisfied with both the yield of syrup and the high quality of maple flavour for the 2019 harvest.
Many producers were able to reach the provincial average of 1.1 litres of syrup per tap, or near to it. Syrup yields higher than average and ‘bumper crops’ have also occurred in some regions, ranging from 1.2 to 3.0 litres syrup per tap. Golden and Amber syrup are the most abundant colour classes produced, while a moderate supply of Dark and Very Dark colour classes are available for markets.
Preliminary syrup crop estimates for Quebec and New Brunswick (ref. Lapierre Equipment)
- overall syrup yield is good with excellent flavour but not a bumper crop
- less than 10% dark syrup made
- high sap sugar concentration this year, like Ontario
- Beauce area: 1.1L to 1.4L syrup per tap
- Montreal/Gatineau area: 1.2L to 1.5L syrup per tap
New Brunswick: 1.2L to 1.5L syrup per tap
Remove spiles from trees carefully
Spiles can be removed from tap holes before new spring growth begins in the trees. The fastest healing of tap holes will occur during spring and early summer when the trees are adding a new layer of xylem wood, the annual growth ring. If spiles remain in the tap hole during spring wood growth, the spile will prevent healing closure by new wood and bark.
To remove the spile, carefully give the spile a gentle twist before pulling it out of the tap hole. Twisting first before pulling will help prevent separating the bark and cambium layer from the underlying xylem, which could cause additional and unnecessary injury to the trees.
Cleaning and sanitizing maple sap tubing
The best time to clean the network of sap tubing in the sugar bush is as soon as possible after the final harvest of sap. A layer of sugary residue that has built up on the inside walls of tubing during harvest will be easiest to remove while the bio-film is soft and still wet. Tubing can be pressure washed with clean potable water, washing each mainline and adjoining lateral lines consecutively, from the collection area outwards into the sugar bush.
Cylindrical sponges that are sized according to tubing diameter are available to help clean sap mainlines. The sponge is moistened then inserted into the far end of a mainline where the sponge is pulled by vacuum down the line to scrape or squeegee the biofilm from the inner walls. Usually, hopefully, all the sponges will reappear inside the sap extractor tank after they have travelled down the mainline.
Several approved chemical cleaners are available from equipment dealers. Equipment dealers are knowledgeable and can provide guidance on product selection and proper use to clean tubing and clean other food handling equipment.
Once the tubing has been sufficiently cleaned, the tubing can be sanitized. In Canada, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is a commonly used and effective tubing sanitizer for organic and conventional maple sap tubing. Canadian maple equipment dealers can provide approved formulations of isopropyl alcohol for use in maple sap tubing. For example, Sani-Marc 70% Isopropyl alcohol is approved for use on food contact surfaces in Canada. There are IPA products that are not approved for use on food contact surfaces, therefore, contact a Canadian maple equipment dealer.
Recent research conducted on IPA at Centre ACER in Quebec has shown that IPA is an effective sanitizer of sap tubing, however it must be used according to the label instructions. Prior to the 2020 harvest next year, regardless of the cleaners and sanitizers that are used by producers, it is recommended that vacuum tubing be rinsed with potable water or rinsed using the first run of sap, before harvesting sap for processing (ref. L. Lagacé et al.).
Ontario 2019 Maple Summer Tour
Mark your calendars to attend the Ontario Maple Syrup Producer’s Association Summer Conference and Tour, Wednesday to Friday, July 17-19, 2019.
This year, the Grey-Bruce Local of OMSPA will host the meeting in Kincardine, Ontario on the shore of Lake Huron. There will be a selection of educational technical presentations at the main venue and the best opportunity to see local sugar bush operations.
The official OMSPA Summer Tour website is https://www.omspasummertour.com/