Preparations are underway for the new season. Lots of trees and branches have fallen in the sugar bush due to the ice and wind storms since last season. So the first pass each year is repairing our tubing system. We usually start tapping the trees in late February to be ready for a sap run the first week of March.
Our sugar bush was severally impacted by the drought last summer and also by an infestation of the forest tent caterpillar. In parts of our sugar bush the leaf canopy was over 50% stripped. We expect the sugar level in the sap will be lower than usual and we intend to tap more conservatively than usual to give the trees a chance to recover.
The forest tent caterpillar is not the caterpillar you see along the roadside with white tents. It is similar but the name is a bit of a misnomer as it does not actually make a conspicuous web nest. It is a native insect and seems to return every 10 years. We have been fortunate not to have had a severe outbreak in this area for 40 years. The infestation usually collapses after two to three years but sustained and repeated outbreaks can kill the trees.