The 2018 sugaring season is off to a good start. Before the sap started running again today we have collected about 11,200 gallons of sap which made about 333 gallons of syrup through March 19th. Minimal sap ran the 20th and 21st. The sugar content is averaging 2.57 which is 17 per cent higher than last year and the highest since 2014 which was 2.36. Last Fall and early winter Jim and Dave worked to prepare the woods for vacuum systems to increase the amount of sap collected. We are hoping to increase sap output by at least 25% vs using the previous collection system. All tees with end caps were removed and replaced with sealed red/green tees, new clear spiles installed on all drops, redid the remaining sap lines in the Harmon woods to add in new trees and install shorter lines to the main lines and trenched in 1200′ of double 1.5 inch drain lines from the edge of Patnodes woods to Patnode Lane, Also coordinated projects to have Excell Energy install electrical service to Patnode Lane and for Pittmans Maple Syrup to make custom vacuum systems for the home woods and the Harmon woods. The Home woods vacuum is powered by a one stroke diesel engine and the Patnode Lane vacuum is powered by an electric motor. The vacuum pump is from Jim’s dairy operation. So far we have paid Backwoods Electric $1299.63 to install electrical service and $1200 for trenching the drain lines. We are planning that the vacuum systems will be paid for by the extra sap collected. Both vacuum systems worked when started up - gauges showed 23lbs for Harmons and 15lbs for the Home woods. We installed insulation on the drain pipes where they come out of the ground and also used a milkhouse heater inside the sap wagon when the temperature dropped below freezing so the transfer sump pump would not be encased in ice. We will continue to monitor all sap lines to find air leaks to keep the vacuum as high as possible - the theory is a 5 - 7% increase in sap output for each lb of vacuum difference.