Tapping some sap has never been sweeter than this year here in the Mountain State.
According to maple syrup producer, Keith Heasley, of Heasley Homestead, he is “probably 20-40% higher in production than last year in terms of production per tree, probably because of the weather.”
Heasley only started making maple syrup a few short years ago, but he has found that what started out as a hobby has turned out to be anything but a sticky situation.
Producing maple syrup is a year-round process; starting in the summertime, sunshine and the water in maple leaves photosynthesize.
That creates sugar within the trees, and it spreads within the tree while it hibernates.
As winter turns to spring, temperatures warm up and allow the sap to loosen up throughout the tree, where it gets tapped for five to six weeks in a connected tube network through a patch of maple trees.
And in order for the sap to flow through the tube from the maple tree, the temperature has to be just right.
“We need days above freezing – 45 and sunny is about perfect – and then down to the 20s at night to stop the sap. When temperatures go below freezing, that puts more sugar in the sap and sends it out when it gets warm again,” explained Heasley.
With more than 1,400 taps on his property, Heasley produces about 3,500 gallons of sap. Once the water is taken out of the sap, only one gallon of syrup is produced for every 100 gallons of sap.
That maple syrup can remain liquid or be made into sugar, flavoring, or candy.
And the long process is well worth it in the long run. From getting the sap from the taps in the woods, to producing the syrup, sugar, and delicious candy.