This morning I woke up to a light snow just covering the ground.  The temps have droped twenty degrees in 24 hours.  Yesterday the sap was flowing fast, today I doubt there will be a drip.  I Tap the Swamp and Norway maples and here at my house in Edgartown I can set 16 taps.   This is really just a hobby amount and I quite enjoy it.  The 2 1/2 gallon buckets can fill with sap almost every sunny day where the temps are above 34 and the night was below that.   You must process the sap before it begins to spoil, I boil it off in shallow pans on my outdoor propane pot boiler.  It can take a lot of time, but it’s easy work.  It takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of finished syrup.  I boil till the sap measures about 218 degrees F. 

Sugar maples have the highest concentration of sugars in their sap but all maples produce a sweet sap.  In ideal conditions you can get 8-10 gallons of sap per mature tree, I am not always that lucky.  I do however, after all the years mistakes are done get 1 or 2 gallons of syrup to distribute to friends and family and to enjoy on my oatmeal in the morning.  Daniel up on the Chilmark farm also does some sugaring of his swamp maples, as does my cousin on Runamuck farm up in Lambert’s Cove.   A thoroughly enjoyable hobby, save when you burn the sap and all your hard work literally goes up in smoke, unfortunately I have done this more than once.  This is just a hobby, however my father planted two long rows of maple trees about 1990 along the edges of the Sherman field, the dream is that one day we will be able to draw a significant amount right at the home farm.  There are a lot of maples on Martha’s Vineyard, happy sugaring.

Simon Athearn

Wood burning maple sap boiler

Wood burning maple sap boiler