Sap harvest 2022 is over. We collected our last sap on May 7th. Harvest lasted a good 20 days but proved to be an unpredictable and lower production season. How can we explain? It really is a lesson in the fact that not everything can be easily explained.
The sap ran erratically, starting in many places during our unseasonably warm March. By the time we tapped in early April the weather had turned cold again. The trees on the tubing system locked up pretty tight when a week earlier they had started to flow freely. They never really let it go again and, as it is our human nature, we have our theories on this. Did the sap continue to travel on up the trees despite the fact that the outer sap wood was too frozen for it to come out the tap holes? Did the tree begin to heal the tap holes? Did we miss out on the early run because it happened in March? Did we tap too early, and would have had a better yield if we waited until it warmed up?
Too early versus too late … we could debate this endlessly, but does it really matter? Our previous experience informs our decisions, and we always do the best we can. In the end, we are short on early run syrup for the year – meaning primarily that our bottles of Kahiltna Gold will not grace the shelves of many fine gift shops around the state, and that we will likely run out before the next harvest. It means that prices had to go up – supply and demand being what it is; along with the hard fact of inflation hitting our bottom line.
So those are the hard facts, but in the end, we have nothing but gratitude for these beautiful trees and what they are able and willing to share with us each year. We have gratitude for our enthusiastic and hard-working crew that never gave up. The harvest was not low yield due to lack of effort, that’s for sure! We are thankful for the sweetness of the syrup we did produce, this year every drop is a small treasure.
We have much to be grateful for as we look towards summer and fall, fish and berry harvests … the endlessly beautiful cycle of the seasons that we experience so deeply as Alaskans.