2009 Crop Report
Mid-April and we are very pleased to report that we are finishing what has turned out to be a fine harvest. We were particularly concerned about this year's crop, given some serious weather events in 2008. May 2008 brought a first-in-memory dramatic hailstorm, piling up marble size--and bigger--loads of ice stones on the ground and shredding perhaps 15% of young leaves from the forest canopy. Trees must use some of their reserve energy to repair from such events. December 11-13 2008 brought a "100 year" (or greater) ice storm. The National Guard moved in to our town of Heath for several weeks while roads were re-opened and power lines repaired. On our farm, tree damage above 1500' in elevation (BSG maple farm elevations are 1260'-1645') was extensive and the majority of our 25 mile system of lines used to harvest maple sap was knocked down and broken. With the help of friends, neighbors, and family, a large work bee was rapidly launched with some wielding chain saws, and all equipped with knives and tape to lift as much of the line system as possible before heavy snow buried it. After that initial recovery, salvage and repair continued for 8 weeks leading up to tapping in mid-February. Friends continued to pitch in and the 8th grade students from the Academy at Charlemont spent a day on snowshoes helping out.
The harvest began in deep snow pack of 3-4 feet which enhanced prospects for a cool, long and large harvest. The harvest weather just got better and better providing extended freezing nights and thawing days. Sugar levels in the sap were lower than average for farmers across the Northeast (why this happens is largely a mystery). Here we were often at 1.4% (called 1.4 "brix") which means it takes about 60 gallons to produce a gallon of syrup! The volume of sap flow was stunning at times, with 450 to 500 gallons an hour blasting into the sugarhouse overwhelming our pumps and demanding that we hustle! Final harvesting under continued cool weather went into the second week of April. Yields per tap were as strong or stronger than last year's bumper crop at 1/3 + gallons of syrup per tap! Nature takes away and Nature provides!
It has been a challenging year and we are pleased to say that Berkshire Sweet Gold is doing fine with a large supply of syrups for your table in all colors which are now, for the first time, harvested and produced with Solar Power! For more on this development see the Energy Page.