Newswise — Some people will go to great lengths to try to experience that slushy northern rite of spring " the sap run that ultimately yields maple syrup. And while all imitations pale in comparison, researchers at the University of Vermont inadvertently brought imitation to new heights.
Senior research technician Tim Wilmot routinely monitors sap flow and pressure and air, soil and trunk temperatures with an array of sensors attached to or embedded in a 79-foot sugar maple tree at the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill, Vermont.
"I was collecting the data anyway, so I put it on the center's website four-five years ago " that made it much easier to check the numbers from home or wherever," he says matter of factly.
Wilmot and others began to notice a sharp rise in their tally of website visits. Perhaps it's because Proctor Maple Research Center is the number one of nearly 5,500 websites on a Google search of "maple research."
"We've had people log on from as far away as Oklahoma," says Wilmot. But one key benefit of the monitoring site flows to those closer to home. "A lot of local people look at it, see the sap running and go home from work to do their own sugaring," he says.
Virtual visitors can view the maple monitoring updated every 15 minutes. A web cam gives voyeurs a peak at the sugarhouse weather. For those less far afield, the website also offers directions to the real thing: the Center itself, open to the public Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and longer during sugaring season. It's best to call ahead to learn when boiling is actually happening: 802-899-4923.
Proctor Maple Research Center is a field research station of the UVM College of Agriculture and Life Sciences located in Underhill, Vermont, on 200 acres of wooded and open land including about 40 acres of managed sugarbush.