2022 Maple Syrup Harvesting Season in Pennsylvania

2022 Maple Syrup Season in Pennsylvania

I’m so excited to be getting ready for the 2022 maple syrup harvesting season in Pennsylvania. This will be my third year of collecting sap from the Silver Maple trees in my backyard. I live in Eastern Pennsylvania, between Philadelphia and Allentown. I don’t own a sugarbush yet, but I am fortunate that I have a pretty old and established Maple tree in my yard.

The maple syrup you will find in the store was probably made from the sap of the Sugar Maple, but like me, you can make syrup from the sap of any maple–and even some other non-maple trees.

My plan for 2022

This year, my plan is to get out of the gate early and try to be on the earlier side of things. That’s a direct response to the poor season I had last year, where I started way, way too late.

You can read about 2021 here

or see the bumper year I had in 2019 here

But based on some analysis I did during the Fall of 2021, I believe the data and evidence suggest that it is much better to be early than late with this hobby. I used to think that the tap holes “dried up”, or perhaps more accurately, healed-up, causing them to stop after a 6-8 week period, but what I found in my research is that the phenomenon appears to be caused by bacterial growth plugging up the hole–and those bacteria reproduce more quickly when it’s warm out.

So the risk is greater on the back-end of the season…at least in theory. Time and this article will tell whether my guess is better this year.

What you will find in this article

I will share my preparations and planning in the pre-season here, convert over to a weekly journal-style blog entry, just like in 2021, and then recap for you all at the end of the year, with total yields and analysis of the data.

Some other helpful resources

If you want to learn more about what type of gear you need to get started making maple syrup at home, check out this article here.

If you’re getting ready for the 2022 season, please leave a comment below and let me know where you live and what your plan is. Thanks!

Getting started

I plan to try out 3 different maple tree tap types this year so that I can get a side-by-side comparison.

Style 1: Plastic tap, drop line + my own bucket

sap bucket with drop line
This is the style I’ve been using since I started

Style 2: PVC Holder and blue plastic bag

I’m testing this style out this year. I plan to tap my larger tree (which is also farther away) with this one.

Style 3: Metal spile + Plastic Bucket

Timing and the weather

Based on my analysis of the best time to tap each of the last several years (in Eastern Pennsylvania, at least), I found that the very beginning of the year was either the absolute best or very close to the best.

So that’s my plan for this year, too. Take a look at the 7-day Weather Forecast from 12/29/2021 to 01/05/2022:

Start of Maple Syrup Harvesting Season
Tuesday, January 4th appears to be the start of Maple Syrup Harvesting Season for 2022, based on the 7-day weather forecast

Let’s take a moment to dissect what is shown here and how the weather impacts making maple syrup.

I have Tuesday highlighted–that’s the day I plan to start collecting liquid sugar in 2022.

The maple sap runs up the tree when the temperature drops below freezing at night and then warms up to several degrees above freezing during the day. You can see, plain as day that Wed-Sat are no good.

Sunday looks like it might be alright based on the temperature change–but when we look closer, we can see that the hourly forecast shows the opposite/wrong pattern:

Example of a deceiving weather pattern

Then, Monday looks alright, but since 22 degrees is a hard freeze and 34 is just barely above freezing, I don’t think there will be much sap running that day. To be fair, it might be a good day, I guess it all just depends on how much direct sunlight there is, to warm up the South-facing sides of the trees and if the weather squeaks another degree or two warmer.

So, the plan is to start on January 4th or 5th.

Journal style entries

In this next section, I will report, journal style, the updates as close to real-time as I can get (which will be weekly in some weeks). The goal is to document what is happening, both to share with you in real-time, as well as to create a resource and record that will help inform future decisions, conclusions, tips, tricks, advice, shortcuts, etc. Basically, capture any learnings and mistakes as they happen.

This is where the grammar and writing tense can get a little confused–and my apologies in advance. Because sometimes the content will be what I just did. Other times it will be what I’m planning to do, and still other times I will go back and edit what I previously wrote, once we are several weeks past that date, to reflect the past tense as it should.

Depending on when you’re reading this, you may find a jumble of tenses. So please allow some grace for the freely-flowing recording of information and just try to absorb the intended key points, until I have time to clean up the writing.

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Preparation Week

One thing I did was prep out my weekly titles, and I can tell you that I’m already nervous that my season probably ends when March starts. I’m going back to my research/notes to double-confirm, before I start, that I’m not planning to start too soon.

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Tapping Week January 1-7, 2022

The season has started!! Tuesday, January 4th looked like a day that could have been decent, but it wasn’t. That was tap day but the freeze was too deep for the very short thaw we had that day.

January 5th, on the other hand, was great. And look, SAAAAAAAPPP. The first sap of the season!

First sap of the 2022 season
The clear liquid in the bag is sap, collected from this PVC and plastic bag-style maple tree tap. And yes, those are my unraked leaves in the grass…oops…

One day, 2,991 grams (from two taps, same tree). I know that’s nerdily precise. I weigh it on a kitchen scale.

Interestingly (or depressingly), I tapped tree #2 and didn’t get any sap at all, even though the tree was ‘raining’ sap from above. It’s nowhere near any other tapholes (I only tapped that tree once). It is plagued by woodpeckers, but otherwise, this remains a mystery. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment. In the meantime, I’m going to try to troubleshoot it.

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 1 January 8-14

Here is the weather report. Already a day late. Sorry about that:

Weather Jan 9th
Wednesday and Thursday look like perfect days

Sunday was a decent temperature for Maple sap and Wed-Thursday look good. I’ll update the sap totals after collecting.

It was a small amount on Sunday, a little more on Wednesday and perfect weather on Thursday.

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103
Jan 8 to 14 331 898 799   2,028 5,131

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 2 January 15-21

The weather turned cold at the beginning of this week. Very cold. Here is the forecast. This week answered one of my outstanding questions:

Will maple syrup run if the temperature goes in reverse: from freezing during the day to 40 degrees at night?

Maple syrup generally runs with freezing temperatures at night give way to daytime temperatures in the 40s. But does sap run when the pattern is reversed and freezing daytime temperatures give way to warm overnight temperatures? The sap runs the same whether the temperature change is during the day or at night, according to recent data.

On January 15-16, the temperature was bitterly cold, but a storm front came  and brought 40 degree temperatures overnight and along with it, lots of sap–nearly 1,000 grams of sap from each tap, to be exact.

You can see the temperature pattern below:

Week of Jan 16

Oh, and the best part: just enough (cumulatively) for pancakes and syrup with my kids:

First maple syrup of 2022
It’s so much fun to get to share the syrup with the kids.

Don’t get me wrong…we could have used more syrup…but we stretched it.

Guess what folks, the Maple Sap is RUNNING here in Easter PA. There was a ~36 hour period between Wednesday into Thursday that yielded nearly 7,000 grams of sap–that’s pretty close to 2 Gallons!
Here is the running total from the 3 taps at my house (2 trees):

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103
Jan 8 to 14 331 898 799   2,028 5,131
Jan 15 to 21 2,598 66 6,875   9,539 14,670

 

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 3 January 22-28

Nothing much to report from this week, sap-wise. It got cold again, really cold. There was a little bit of a warm-up earlier in the week that created some sap, but not that much. Counting this week as a goose egg….zero…technically slightly above zero, but not worth measuring.

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103
Jan 8 to 14 331 898 799   2,028 5,131
Jan 15 to 21 2,598 66 6,875   9,539 14,670
Jan 22 to 28 0       0 14,670

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 4 January 29-February 4

This week shows promise, with temperatures warming up into the right zone, but once it warms up on Wed, it might actually stay too warm. We will see.This is the weekly weather, with the nice temperature curve on Wednesday highlighted:

It looks like a 3-day sweet pot, maybe, but upon closer inspection:

Thursday may not even freeze and going into Friday AM it will start in the 40s and go down to freezing that night. I will let you know how the week turns out.

(Writing after the fact now…sorry…that’s confusing)

I scored 4158 grams of sap last week. The temperature swung so quickly that I just left the sap out there until the deep freeze came in on Friday night. It turned out that the strange weather pattern worked out great. The sap run was pretty cool. Even though the temperature stayed in the 40s even overnight…the run was slow to start on Wednesday (due to how cold it was for a week before) but then once it started, it ran straight through the night, into the next day and then finally stopped on Friday when the temperature dropped…but my bags and bucket were quite heavy!

Here’s the current total:

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103
Jan 8 to 14 331 898 799   2,028 5,131
Jan 15 to 21 2,598 66 6,875   9,539 14,670
Jan 22 to 28 0       0 14,670
Jan 29 to Feb 4 4,158       4,158 18,828

Quick side note here, on weeks like this, with all the rain, I am really liking the PVC-pipe with blue plastic bag style. The cap keeps the rain out. The Bucket with the lid moves around less now that I have it strapped to the tree with a bungee, but that bungee makes it hard for me to do solo…although I bet it’s amusing for the neighbors to see!!!

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 5 February 5-11

Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes!!! Get your taps in!!! Can you tell I’m excited? If you were more patient than me, you were right. You win, all things. If you’re waiting, get in there. This week looks amazing!!!

Amazing weather week

As expected, it was a great week. 12, 400 grams of sap, more than 3 gallons for the week, 8+ gallons for the year, so far.

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103
Jan 8 to 14 331 898 799   2,028 5,131
Jan 15 to 21 2,598 66 6,875   9,539 14,670
Jan 22 to 28 0       0 14,670
Jan 29 to Feb 4 4,158       4,158 18,828
Feb 5 to 11 4,513 4,378 3,518   12,409 31,237

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 6 February 12-18

The weather does not look as perfect as last week. I’m posting this on Saturday, 2/12, and while the high and low look good, the reality is that it has been in the 50s overnight and the flow stopped. So the low will head into cold temperatures on Sunday. But it does look like Wednesday, Friday, and next Saturday could be good days.

Update: There was a great collection period right in the middle of the week–4,381 grams. Added that to what was collected the prior week and made a nice batch of syrup. YUM.

Here are the totals now:

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7 2,991 112     3,103 3,103
Jan 8 to 14 331 898 799   2,028 5,131
Jan 15 to 21 2,598 66 6,875   9,539 14,670
Jan 22 to 28 0       0 14,670
Jan 29 to Feb 4 4,158       4,158 18,828
Feb 5 to 11 4,513 4,378 3,518   12,409 31,237
Feb 12 to 18 3,881 500     4,381 35,618

That’s nearly 10 gallons of sap! Woo-hoo!! Of course, it’s not hard to see more than half came over the past 3 weeks. So far the biggest collection weeks were 2/5-2/11 and 1/15-1/21, which generated 2/3 of the sap alone.

The picture is starting to shape up for me that maple sap collection is all about big wins, more than slow and steady.

How’s your collecting doing? Please leave a comment below.

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 7 February 19-25

Here’s the weather report for this week:

Those days there in the high 50s/low 60s worry me a bit…seems like weather that is good for growing sap-eating bacteria that clog tapholes. Time will tell. Seems like we have a decent shot at some tap this week.

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7

2,991

112

   

3,103

3,103

Jan 8 to 14

331

898

799

 

2,028

5,131

Jan 15 to 21

2,598

66

6,875

 

9,539

14,670

Jan 22 to 28

0

     

0

14,670

Jan 29 to Feb 4

4,158

     

4,158

18,828

Feb 5 to 11

4,513

4,378

3,518

 

12,409

31,237

Feb 12 to 18

3,881

500

   

4,381

35,618

Feb 19 to 25

3,156

     

3,156

38,774

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 8 February 26-March 4

Here’s the report updated for this week. Seems like the big runs may be trending down. There are some big buds on the tree. Made a small batch this weekend and the flavor was off…the kids were fine with eating it…because it was mostly sugar…but it had a certain…old shoe flavor to it. 

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7

2,991

112

   

3,103

3,103

Jan 8 to 14

331

898

799

 

2,028

5,131

Jan 15 to 21

2,598

66

6,875

 

9,539

14,670

Jan 22 to 28

0

     

0

14,670

Jan 29 to Feb 4

4,158

     

4,158

18,828

Feb 5 to 11

4,513

4,378

3,518

 

12,409

31,237

Feb 12 to 18

3,881

500

   

4,381

35,618

Feb 19 to 25

3,156

     

3,156

38,774

Feb 26 to Mar 4

2,656

     

2,656

41,430

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 9 March 5 to 11

The weather report is a little late…this is the weather starting on March 7…and look, the temperature got all the way up to 73 degrees on Monday. It was almost seventy on Sunday too. I’m afraid it was way too warm to make sap run…and it was warm enough to grow tap hole closing bacteria. Hoping it isn’t so.

 

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Sap Collected (g)

Weekly Total (g)

Cumulative Total (g)

Jan 1 to 7

2,991

112

   

3,103

3,103

Jan 8 to 14

331

898

799

 

2,028

5,131

Jan 15 to 21

2,598

66

6,875

 

9,539

14,670

Jan 22 to 28

0

     

0

14,670

Jan 29 to Feb 4

4,158

     

4,158

18,828

Feb 5 to 11

4,513

4,378

3,518

 

12,409

31,237

Feb 12 to 18

3,881

500

   

4,381

35,618

Feb 19 to 25

3,156

     

3,156

38,774

Feb 26 to Mar 4

2,656

     

2,656

41,430

Mar 5 to 11

1460

     

1,460

42,890

Maple Tapping Journal Report: Week 9 March 5 to 11

It’s OVER! The season is OVER!

The 70 degree temperatures have ended the season here in the Philadelphia Suburbs. I hope it is still cold, frosty and that the sap is flowing where you are. Please leave a comment and let us know when you’re seeing the sap stop running and how much sap you collected (or syrup you made), it will help out others as they find and read this.

Discussion and analysis

This season I set out with three main goals–1) get started as soon as I could in the season to capitalize on those early runs, 2) see if my run was any longer or shorter as a result (in terms of the number of weeks with sap running) and 3) To try out two new sap collection systems/styles.

Starting out early and seeing if the run lasts just as long

Now that I’m here, staring at the end of the season, I am having a facepalm moment, realizing that I have NO WAY OF KNOWING whether my run is longer or shorter as a result of starting early. Duh! Lame experiment there. 

Looking at the weather the week of St. Patty’s Day, Spring and Warm temperatures are here. Take a look. lots of 50s, 60s and 70s with no freezing. That’s a recipe for plugged up sap holes if I’ve ever seen one. I think the start-early strategy worked…and that my holes would clog in this weather no matter when I started, but I can’t be sure. 

To my friends in SE PA, NJ, MD, with similar weather, please let me know if you collected any sap on or past 3/14. I’m hanging up my maple tree taps over here. 

New maple tapping equipment

Both of the new maple tree tap types I used this year are an improvement over my original tap + dropline + bucket on the ground system from previous years.

This is how I started out a few years ago:

This is the equipment I purchased (used my own money, not provided by a sponsor or anything) and used this year–I tried out the PVC bag holders:

First sap of the 2022 season

And the old-fashioned bucket style. I wanted metal buckets but couldn’t find them just before the season. I did get the style with the metal spile/spigot vs. the one that was a little cheaper that had the plastic blue taps.

maple syrup tap

The bucket style blew around and even ‘freed itself’ from a bungee cord on an extremely windy day. The stand-out performer was the PVC bag holder style. They look sketchy, but work awesome. They held up in strong winds, held up on heavy sap days, worked well with the freezes and thaws.

I also LOVED that I could see into the bag at all times and know how much sap I had without sloshing through the yard. 

How was your 2022 maple syrup season? Please update us by leaving a comment below and share what you learned, or simply say hello. Thanks for reading. Hope you made enough syrup to last you a while!

Also, the season may be over, but check back for more updates, gear reviews and things I learn while I prepare for the 2023 season.

Regards,

Al

2022 Maple Syrup Season in Pennsylvania

 

8 comments

  1. I’m over in the Collegeville, PA area near Evansburg State Park. My property is filled with Silver maples that I tapped for the first time last year. I agree that the temperature was perfect in early January last year, but I still didn’t get a good yield for 2021 with almost 40 taps in. Fingers crossed for 2022.

    1. Scott, We are practically neighbors! Or at least I have to drive to your town to get some proper food :). Last year was bad for me, too. Jealous of the scale. Please keep in touch!

      Regards,
      Al

  2. I’d love to connect. I founded Oak Lane Maple. Tapped 40 trees last year with 20 gallons syrup yield. Increasing number of sugar maples, tapping 70 trees, and built local partnerships. About to finish sugar shack which can receive sap from local tappers. Struggling with when to tap this season. Thinking around January 20th. I also am community engagement coordinator for Stockton University Maple Program where I’ve helped establish 6 additional maple hubs. Let’s talk.

  3. I’ve been enjoying reading your precision and scientific approach to sap collection. This will be my 4th year boiling. My daughter lives in northern PA, close to Binghamton, NY where I have collected and boiled the last 3 years, usually 80-100 gallons of sap from 10 taps.
    I live in Lancaster Co. and have a neighbor that has 4 trees we will be tapping. I am looking at the 10 day forecast for that magic 40+ day/mid 20 night.
    This week 1/10, Wed, Thur, Fri look good then turns cold again for another week or so. The averages would lead me to tap around Jan 26.
    Hope your season is productive, nothing better than homemade maple syrup!

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks so much for the very kind words there. This is your 4th year boiling. One ahead of me :). Thank you for sharing your quantity: 80-100 gallons from 10 taps. Yum. I’m so jealous, in a good way. I need more trees. I love the fact that you’ve convinced your neighbor to let you tap. Muhuhahahaha. Maybe that’s how I can expand. With respect to the date, I do think you’re right that I started a bit early here. Hedging against a super-early heatwave, I suppose.

      I wish you lots of good luck this year. Keep me posted.

      Regards,
      Al

  4. Fun blog!! I live in NE Ohio. Last year was my first year for backyard sugaring. Over the course of about 5 weeks I collected just over 200 gallons of sap from 10 taps in 8 sugar maples around the house and edge of the woods. I ended up with about 5 gallons of syrup from 5 boils. We had a polar vortex the beginning of February so my first boil was the last week of the month and we had a string of 70+ degree days late March, which brought the season to a close. I have Marked another 7 trees to tap if it looks like it’s going to be another short season.

  5. Hi, Thanks for this helpful post! I’m nearby in New Jersey and have a question. I did this for the first time last year and was aiming to get a consistent week or 10 days with highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s. It worked decently well.

    But it seems like you just started on the first “good” day and kept the taps in – getting zero some days and a gallon or more on other days. Is that right? Would yo suggest that, instead of waiting till a “streak” of good days, I just tap soon-ish, and keep the taps in for basically all of February?

    Last year we had a fantastic week and I missed it, put the taps in, and caught basically the tail end of the season. So I don’t want to miss it again – but dont’ want to be too early either.

    Thanks in advance!

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