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Alaska Life

This birch syrup collector will tap more than 650 trees this season

  • Author: Bob Hallinen
  • Updated: April 11, 2018
  • Published April 11, 2018

Gerald Keene uses a special tool to splice a tap line into the collection tubing at his 4 Trees Birch Syrup operation along the Parks Highway. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Birch sap will soon be running as the weather warms up in Mat-Su.

Gerald Keene is getting his sap lines in shape north of Wasilla at his 4 Trees Birch Syrup property. Keene tapped 635 birch trees last year and collected 2,000 gallons of sap. That was boiled down to 20 gallons of syrup by Kahiltna Birchworks in Talkeetna.

Keene is adding 25 trees for this year's harvest.

Gerald Keene works on collection tubing at his 4 Trees Birch Syrup operation. Keene gathered 2,000 gallons of sap from 635 trees last year.  (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Gravity pulls the syrup to the bottom of his sloping property between the Parks Highway and the Alaska Railroad tracks, where it flows into tanks. It is then pumped up the hill to more tanks and hauled to Talkeetna each day for processing.

Gerald Keene has a stack of birch wood at his 4 Trees Birch Syrup operation. Keene will use the blow-down birch to heat his home.  (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

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