Maple sap harvest in the area has finally begun.
Camp Aquila, located west of Dent, began its maple syrup harvest later than average for the 2011 season because of heavy snow cover in the maple orchard and cold weather throughout the month of March.
Sap runs finally began at the end of March thanks to warm daytime temperatures and below freezing nighttime lows. However, the harvest has yet to experience heavy daily sap flows, typically considered as more than one gallon of sap per tap in a 24-hour period. Sap flows typically begin mid-March in Otter Tail County.
Recent deep snow cover, making access to the maple orchard difficult, hampered pre-season set up of tubing, collection equipment and tapping of the trees. Snowshoes and track ATV vehicles were required throughout the season.
Company officials indicate the factory sugarhouse began processing sap with pre-season test boils in late March and has processed sap on a daily basis since start-up April 1.
Early season sugar content of the sap has been slightly below average at just over two percent sugar. Season sugars historically run in the two and a half to three percent range. Sugar content is expected to rise once sap runs are in full swing. The annual sap run will continue into the month of April until the cycle of freezing nighttime temperatures ends.
Camp Aquila is licensed by the State of Minnesota as a wholesale food processor and its production is certified organic by the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association. The company typically processes up to 9,000 gallons of sap and produces 200 to 250 gallons of pure maple syrup annually. The locally produced syrup is sold at retail in stores in Vergas, Perham, Fergus Falls and Star Lake, in addition to outlets in Twin Cities area.
Farm sales and facility tours can be made by appointment only. For further information contact Stu Peterson, 218-758-2796 or go to www.localfoods.umn.edu/campaquila.