By LISA RATHKE and HOLLY RAMER
MILTON, Vt. (AP) - For years, vacuum tubing technology has allowed maple syrup producers to draw more sap from trees, but such systems are prone to leaks caused by falling branches or hungry critters chewing on lines.
Finding and repairing those leaks can take hours of trudging through often snowpacked woods. This season, however, some Vermont syrup producers are trying new wireless monitoring systems that allow them to keep track of their sap lines from the sugar house. They're using computers and smartphones to pinpoint the location of leaks, allowing them to make quick fixes and get better yields during the four-to-six-week sugaring season.
The inventor of one tracking system says it can net a 5 percent increase in production, the kind of jump that could only otherwise be expected by increasing manpower.
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