Sugar Bush Ontario's First Harvest

by: @RangerRidley

In early February when it's still cold and snowy Maple Syrup Producers will be setting up the Sugar Bush awaiting the first run on sap as the days begin to get longer. When the first drops begin to fall, the hollow "tap, tap, tap" of the sap into the bucket is music and a sign that spring is around the corner.

The process to collect the sap has evolved over time however rules exist to insure that not too much stress is put upon the trees

Best condition for sap to run involve warm days for the sap to travel up the tree and then cold nights, for it to come back down to the roots for further collection the next day.

Today, many syrup producers use tap lines. Trees on hills are tapped using the same math to determine the number of spiles as previous. Then the sap travels down tubes to a central collection barrel at the bottom of the hill.

Maples do not make maple syrup, they make maple sap. On average, it takes 40 buckets of this sap to make one bucket of the liquid gold.

To reduce the water content, the sap is placed into an Evaporator

When in the Sugar Shack one can taste the sugar in the air!


Depending on the point in the season and the size of the evaporator, sap will boil at extremely high temperatures for 8 or more hours. At a 40:1 ratio this means an evaporator this size holding 120 gallons of sap will make 3 gallons of syrup in that time.

Table syrup, made in factories should not be confused with maple syrup. If the label says "Maple Syrup" it is made in the forest by boiling sap. There are no artificial ingredients or colours. It is "organic candy".

Interested in bringing your class? Visit the Jack Smythe Field Centre or the Britannia Farm Field Centre with the Peel District School Board.

  • pmd

    what a cool story!