DUNVEGAN A new system to harvest sap from maple trees expected to start in Ontario within the next decade could produce 10 times the amount of maple syrup as the current system.
While most people still believe sap is collected with a tap and a bucket, maple syrup producers have been using other measures for years, including vacuum pressure pumps, plastic tubing, and reverse osmosis devices that quickly remove water from the sap.
The new system, designed by researchers at the University of Vermonts Proctor Maple Research Centre, would have maple producers cut the tops off chest-high maple saplings and use a vacuum system to suck the sap from the trees. A press release for the Eastern Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association said a cornfield-type plantation could produce 1,500 litres of maple syrup from one acre of land, 10 times more than a mature sugar bush taking up the same area.
It will take a while until syrup producers know if this new system will work in Ontario. Bryan Exley and Merna Brown of Stonebriar Farm in Dunvegan, about an hour east of Ottawa, plan to plant 2,000 new maple trees within the next two years, and hope to start collecting sap, using the new system, from those trees in eight to 10 years.
Exley says being able to collect sap from saplings and mature trees will help them more easily deal with future challenges, such as pests and weather issues.