More then a decade ago there was a renewed realization that microbial contamination of maple sap collection systems was having a significant detrimental impact on sap yields. Several research studies to investigate ways to improve sap yields from tubing systems were undertaken at both the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center (Underhill, VT) and at the Cornell University Arnot Forest (Van Etten, NY) starting at about the same time and proceeded both as independent and joint projects from 2009-2018. The results of many of these studies have been reported in the past in numerous individual publications and presentations. This article seeks to combine and present this extensive body of work into a single, comprehensive, but concise summary of our results.
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This article is intended to accompany the Tapping Zone Model available to download at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center (UVM-PMRC) website. It provides a general explanation of the model and how it can be used. The model can be used to estimate the chances of hitting conductive and nonconductive wood when tapping, and this can be used to assess the sustainability of current or planned tapping practices.
A model that calculates the proportions of conductive and nonconductive wood in the tapping zone of a tree over time given user-input values for tree diameter and tapping practices.
The University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center and the Cornell Maple Program Arnot Forest conducted a multi-year study examining several common sanitation strategies and assessing the effects on sap yield, attendant costs, and resulting net profits. The following graphs briefly summarize the results of this work.
Concentrating sap with reverse osmosis (RO) substantially increases the efficiency and profitability of processing maple sap into syrup by reducing the amount of fuel and time required to complete concentration to syrup density in the evaporator, with gains proportional to the level of sap pre-concentration. Because most flavor development in maple syrup occurs through nonenzymatic browning reactions as sap is processed with heat in the evaporator, it has often been speculated that reduced evaporator processing time resulting from the use of RO might also result in perceptible impacts on syrup flavor. However, a series of controlled experiments conducted at the University of Vermont Proctor Maple Research Center using the same sap processed to different levels with RO determined that concentrating sap up to 21.5% prior to boiling in standard maple evaporators had no substantive effects on syrup composition or flavor.
Birch syrup production uses the same equipment as maple syrup production, and the spring sapflow season begins just as the maple season is ending. Sugarmakers might want to consider adding birch production to their operations to generate additional revenue.
A presentation on the potential value of adding birch syrup production to an existing maple operation.
Leader Evaporator Co. Check-Valve (CV) spouts and adapters incorporate a small, free-floating ball which is designed to reduce or prevent backflow of sap into the taphole during freezing, when leaks in the tubing system occurs, and when mechanical releasers dump and introduce air into the system. Several studies over nearly a decade have compared sap yields from CV adapters and spouts to various non-CV spouts and adapters.
The objective of this study was to characterize the chemical composition of the five maple syrup grades, including their pH, conductivity, mineral and carbohydrate contents. In general, quantification of the range of chemical composition for each standard maple syrup grade will strengthen the existing knowledge of maple syrup chemistry.
The goal of this work was to investigate the chemical composition of the scale that is deposited on maple evaporator surfaces during sap processing. Knowing the chemical composition of scale produced in modern equipment and how it compares to previously published values for loose sugar sand may aid in understanding how best to remove these unwanted deposits.