|Kern measuring the sugar of the sap with a hydrometer|
Sap is comprised of sugar and water, but mostly water. Now that the sap has finally started to run, we need to check the sugar density of the sap. We check how much sugar is in the sap multiple times a day using a hydrometer. The amount of sugar in the sap indicates how much sap we need to make a gallon of syrup. The lower the sap sugar, the more sap it will take to make syrup. The sugar in the sap varies with each day and place, with it usually being the lowest in the beginning and end of the season. The sap sugars usually start out at around 1.2% in the beginning of the season, however this year it was 0.6%! This means that it takes 143 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!
Since this winter has been so cold and icy, the trees were very frozen, and are just starting to loosen up. While the arctic weather solidly froze the trees, the large amounts of snow on the ground insulated the tree roots. Because the roots were not as frozen, our first runs yielded more sap than usual. At the same time however, since the trees themselves were still so frozen, most of the sugar in the tree was withheld....leaving the lowest sugar density we have ever seen!