Crew member Larry Lackey writes:

On the woods crew’s agenda for early April has been to check for and repair leaks in the sap collection lines.  This was the third time around for most sections of the bush.  The problem is not sap leaking out, but rather air leaking in to the tubes, reducing the vacuum that increases sap flow.  The vacuum in a well-sealed tubing system can increase sap yield by about 50%.  The all-knowing master vacuum pressure gauge located at the base of the main lines is the arbiter of the woods crew’s progress.   

Performance Needs Improvement.

The woods crew made a quick pass when sap was first gathered in mid-February, locating and repairing large leaks that cut the vacuum pressure by half or more.  The second pass, focused on leaks that could be located without too much detective work.  On April 7, the crew completed a third and final pass, repairing leaks not noticed previously (Our excuse: in poor light, a clear plastic line full of air can look a lot like a line full of sap), leaks that weren’t there before (thanks for that, squirrels!), and leaks for which the sources had previously stumped us.   

Performance Minimally Satisfactory.

Some leaks in the tubing are minuscule — on the order of a pin.  In the category of mildly macabre, a fly that resembles a mosquito seems to be attracted to these pinholes.  Perhaps by the scent of sweet sap?  By the looks of it, the fly dips its proboscis in the pinhole, and the vacuum pulls the fly partially and inextricably into the tubing.  An ill fate reminiscent of the Golden Ticket holders that toured Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  While still tiny, the fly lodged in the tube helpfully marks the location of the leak.   

Pointing to a leak.

There’s still a foot and half of dense snow in the upper reaches of the sugarbush, but the snow pack has been fast melting and flowing down Falls Brook.   

But with forecast temperatures pushing 60 degrees or more this coming week, the woods crew will likely not be needing snowshoes when it starts to remove taps.


PS, This bit of maple industry news, announced last week by UVM, was the topic of considerable and earnest discussion in the sugar house: The reader is encouraged to read the entire article to fully appreciate the implications. 

3 thoughts on “Early April Woods Report

  1. I believed every word of the UVM news until the end- April Fools pranksters! Seriously though, with climate change …..there is much change ahead for trees and people.
    Gullible in Oregon.

    Liked by 1 person

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