(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The wildly swinging temperatures have meant little to no ice fishing, confused flowers peaking out of the ground earlier than usual, and a lack of snow, but it also has meant prime maple tapping conditions.
That good news, however, comes with a caveat — too many warm days could change the tapping outlook.
“We will see what the next few days bring. If the trees keep running through the warm up and then we drop back down into ideal temperatures for sap collection, we should have another good few weeks,” said Andrea Krivak of Asbury Woods.
Those ideal temperatures are a simple formula. It needs to be below freezing at night (32 degrees) and above freezing during the day. Sweet sap will run until leaves begin budding, and then the sap turns bitter. Before it turns bitter, the maple sap that is collected can be boiled down into maple syrup, but it takes quite a lot of sap to make syrup (sugar maple trees need to produce 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup).
Asbury Woods has some 75 buckets collecting sap from tapped trees (that includes 22 buckets that were rented to participants at the beginning of the season). The trees were tapped on about Feb. 2. This season staff and volunteers already have collected about 160 gallons of sap. The “Sugar Shack” at Asbury Woods already is doing the initial processing of that sap.
“We still need to boil down the syrup to finish it fully, but I believe we will have around 7 gallons or so of syrup once fully finished with this first batch,” said Amy Shook, the interpretive naturalist at Asbury Woods.
At Asbury Woods, both sugar maples and red maples are tapped for their sap to be made into syrup. Red maple tree sap has a lower sugar content, so it takes more sap to make syrup. Last year, Asbury Woods produced about 8 gallons of syrup, meaning they collected an estimated 320 to 400 gallons of sap for the whole season.
At some point later in the season, Asbury Woods will provide boiling notices on its Facebook page inviting the public to come see the Sugar Shack in action.
Asbury Woods is at 4105 Asbury Road in Erie.