End of the 2023 Sugarbush Season

Our 50th production season has come to an end and we are pleased to report that we had a good year.  The volume of our crop was above our long-term average and the quality is excellent.  We did not make as much dark and very dark syrup as we wanted, but that is beyond our control. The unseasonably hot weather brought the trees out of dormancy very quickly, changing the chemistry of the sap and rendering it unusable.

It was a challenging season in the woods dealing with the effects of last summer’s derecho and then the ice storm in April.  This is the fist time we have experienced damaging ice conditions during maple season as well as a prolonged power failure.  We managed to clear the fallen branches and trees and get the pipeline systems back into shape over three days and gathered a lot of sap once the power was back on.  We will investigate back up power options as electricity is critical in all aspects of our production systems. 

We enjoyed seeing all our friends and customers and appreciate your positive feedback on your experience at the farm and our maple products.  It’s so nice to connect with folks every year and catch up on news and events!

Once we stop collecting sap, the cleaning begins.  All the taps are removed from the trees, our lines are back washed with water and then injected with alcohol to sanitize the network.  The alcohol vapours remain in the pipelines, keeping them clean until we tap our trees again next spring.  We scrub our sap collection tanks, clean the pump houses and service our pumps (there are many pumps!).  The  evaporator is drained and cleaned carefully as well as the reverse osmosis machine and membranes.  All the clean-up takes about three weeks and seems to go quicker when we’ve had good production.

In the forest, the leaves are emerging and we are pleased to see flowers on some of our maples.  The wind and ice storms have created many openings in the canopy and a good crop of maple seeds means that future generations of maple trees will be established where others have fallen. The woods are alive with birds, who unlike us, are looking forward to the arrival of insects.

Buying / Ordering Syrup

As of May 1, we will no longer have daily hours in the store but plan to be open on Saturdays from 10 to 2. 

Syrup can be ordered and picked up anytime at the farm from our lock boxes.  We have also started making deliveries and ship syrup around the world to customers far and wide.  We have a good supply of golden, amber, and dark syrup as well as our other maple products.

The Fortune Family, the Kettle Boys, Shanty Men and staff at the farm would like to thank everyone who visits the farm and enjoys our products.  Sharing maple season with you is a tradition we all enjoy.

A tapping we will go…

Our store and trails will be open on the weekend, March 4th and 5th from 10 to 4pm. After that, we’ll be open on the weekend until the maple season begins properly.

We hit the woods on Tuesday to install our taps for the 2023 season. During the stretch of unseasonably mild weather that we had over the past two weeks the sap was running. With the return of cold weather, we are now on a normal path to the start of maple syrup production in early to mid-march.  If warmer winters become the norm, we may have to tap earlier, around the beginning for February, to catch all of the major sap runs.

Back to tapping trees.  Every year, a new tap hole must be drilled in the tree. There have been significant changes over the past 50 years in the tools and equipment used to tap trees and gather sap. 

The first and most important change has been from buckets to pipelines.  Pipelines greatly reduce labour in the collection of sap as well as the need to drive heavy equipment through the sugar bush when the ground is soft in the spring.  This is much better economically and environmentally. 

Four members of the Fortune Farms maple tree tapping team standing out in the snow.

Secondly, the addition of vacuum pumps to create suction in the pipelines increases sap flow enabling consistent levels of production without any harmful effects on the trees. Additionally, vacuum helps to keep the tapholes open longer as sealed pipeline systems do not allow air into the tap holes.  Air dries out the taps restricts sap flow. 

Thirdly, and most recently, with pipelines and vacuum systems we have been able to significantly reduce the size of our tap holes and spiles.

When tapping with buckets and our first pipeline systems we drilled tap holes 7/16 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep.  We now drill holes 5/16 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep.  This reduces our impact on the surface of the tree by 35%. 

This is important as the column of wood above and below the taphole becomes stained and will no longer conduct sap.  This mean less wood is damaged by tapping, and more of tree’s stem or tapping surface remains productive.  Plus, those smaller and narrower tapholes require a lot less energy to drill. So, we no longer require gas powered drills, which are heavy, noisy and emit exhaust.

We find tapping enjoyable as we are working outside in the woods, spending our days hiking along the pipelines and visiting every tree.  Trees are assessed for their health and size which determines the number of taps. 

We start tapping healthy trees when they are 10 inches in diameter at chest height. A second tap is placed in a healthy tree when it is 18 inches in diameter and a third at 26 inches.

New tap holes are located at least six inches horizontally and 10 inches vertically from the previous year’s tap hole and we move around and up and down the stem over the years so that we are always tapping into fresh wood. 

We all have favourite trees and sections of the sugar bush and it is satisfying to see so many of our trees growing well and supplying us with volumes of sap.  Our largest tree is 42 inches in diameter and is estimated to be around 400 years old! 

Forests of trees of this size and age are rare and it is remarkable to consider that old have been tapped for maple syrup for well over 100 years. 

We look forward to seeing you at Fortune Farms when we open this coming weekend, March 4th and 5th from 10am to 4pm!

Tapping is complete!

We are finished tapping and are waiting for the first run of sap.The temperature later this week looks very favourable so we should make the first syrup of the 2021 season.

Startup is always very busy as there will be leaks to fix well as the pumps, the reverse osmosis machine and of course the evaporator to start. It will all be worth it with the first taste of fresh syrup.

On March 6 we held a family tapping event in our maple plantation with the Fortune Family bubble of people. Included were Ruth and Ray Fortune, Sherry and Jamie Fortune and Blair Walker with great grandchildren Alice and Angus. Angus, aged three, tapped in the spile for the first time.

We also held this event in remembrance of Don Dodds who passed away recently. Don was an excellent syrup maker and a maple equipment vendor and was a big help to maple producers, especially to those people just starting out.

The Fortune Family holding a small family tapping event.
The Fortune Family tapping event (Photo: Jim Robertson)

Our camp is now open daily 10am to 4pm.

Our new shopping cart is available and you can prebook your order.

  • The number of people in the camp at one time will be limited.
  • Face masks will be mandatory and we expect visitors to follow social distancing around the camp and on the trails.
  • The trails are open but snowy and are packed down with the snowmobile.

The Kettle Boys and Shanty Men will not be open this year. We very much regret the restrictions placed upon us by Covid-19. However,  if the rules are followed, your visit to the sugar bush should be safe and enjoyable. We look forward to seeing you, at a safe distance.

Start of the 2016 Season

After a very warm fall, winter has finally arrived and we are busy getting ready for the maple season. The jet stream, which has a major impact on our weather, has moved south of the great lakes to its normal track. If this continues we should have a “normal” spring but possibly a bit early.

We look forward to welcoming our returning visitors as well as newcomers to Fortune Farms.

If you wish to reserve syrup or other products phone 613 256 5216 or send an email to info@fortunefarms.ca.

End of 2015 season

At the end of another successful season we’d like to thank all of our customers who make every season worth it! We are very lucky to have such loyal customers.

Thank you for coming out and visiting and supporting us! See you next year.

Syrup still available

We still have stock left of all varieties. Please call to place your order and arrange pick up: 613-256-5216.