When Does the Sap Run?

sap icicle near a barn in winterWe Wait All Year for the Sap to Run…and then it Doesn’t!

When does the sap run? Early spring, temperatures above freezing in the daytime, below at night, right? Well, sort of…

Every sugarmaker looks at the weather forecast, out ten days ahead, planning and working, hustling to be ready. And then we stand at the precipice, seeing those temperatures below freezing, next day in the upper thirties, lower forties, sunny, and we know, no, we hope, that the sap will come rushing forth.

“Yes, we’ll be boiling!” I tell visitors. But, yesterday was one of those days when the predicted becomes unpredictable, in the balance, fickle, and despite the warm sun, the muddy road, the melting snow…the sap barely dribbled, it came in a little fit and start, and we had to say at dusk, “No, no boiling tomorrow after all.” A sap run is a curious thing. After all essentials have been met, the sap does what it wants after all. A little wind, a little cloud cover, a little too soon for the frozen ground…and nothing. But wait!

A text from Paul, “Sap’s running!” Late in the day, it started, and continued well into the night. Men started emptying tanks, hauling sap, and then, at 5:30 am, another message, “Going to bed.” A good run, after all, in the eleventh hour, and plenty to boil today. Unpredictable, exciting, Mother Nature at her best, keeping us all on our toes.

When the wind’s in the west
The sap runs the best
When the wind’s in the north
The sap runs forth
When the wind’s in the south
The sap runs drouth
When the wind’s in the east
Sap runs least.