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Industry leaders ponder the future of maple

Peter Gregg | May 13, 2019

HYDE PARK, Vt.—Tap expansion is slowing but the syrup market and overall maple economy remains strong.

This was the opinion of four industry leaders during a “State of the Industry” roundtable discussion at the Hyde Park Maple School in Northern Vt. this winter.

“I’m positive about the overall state of maple,” said Bradley Gillilan, president of Leader Evaporator Co., the nation’s biggest equipment manufacturer.

But Gillilan and Bruce Bascom, owner of Bascom Maple Farms in Alstead, N.H. both concurred that the rapid adding of taps over the past ten years is waning.

“Expansion is definitely slowing down,” Bascom said.
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Dealer open houses and Vermont Maple Festival this weekend

Peter Gregg | April 25, 2019

SWANTON, Vt.—The big maple equipment manufacturers will be hosting open houses this weekend in Franklin County, Vt. where producers can see demonstrations and seminars and enjoy big discounts on equipment orders for next season.

Seven dealer open houses will be starting tomorrow morning and through Saturday afternoon, all within a few miles of each other in Franklin County, Vt.

Running at the same time will be the can’t-miss 53rd Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans, Vt., which features maple exhibits, a grand parade and a banquet to crown the Vermont Maple Royalty for 2019. MORE ]

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Loans available for farm storage facilities for maple

Peter Gregg | April 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — The USDA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities and to purchase portable (new or used) structures, equipment and storage and handling trucks.

The program includes provisions for maple production.

The low-interest funds can be used to build or upgrade permanent facilities to store sap and syrup.
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Season Update #8: Season finishing strong for most

Peter Gregg | April 12, 2019

HARRISVILLE, N.H.—The season is turning around in a hurry, with big sap runs finishing out what had been a sluggish season and making it into a winner.

“We’ve been boiling for the last 16 days straight,” said Jillian Miner, who with husband Jon makes syrup off 800 taps at Grand Monadnock Maple Farm in Harrisville, N.H. “We’re tired.”

The Miners were coming to the end of their season during a tour for The Maple News on Saturday, April 6 and had broke 300 gallons of production for the first time in their sugaring career.

“We’re running out of containers,” Miner said.
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Season Update #7: Season catches up in a hurry

Peter Gregg | April 5, 2019

ELLENBURG CTR., N.Y.—The season is catching up fast, with an ocean of sap in the East this week.

“We’re overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Joy Herfurth of 10,000-tap Brandy Brook Maple Farm in Ellenburg Center, N.Y., near the Canadian border.

Herfurth said she got 22,600 gallons of sap in 36 hours from Tuesday into Wednesday of this week.

“That’s a record for us,” she said. “Our biggest holding tank is 4,000 gallons. So it was crazy.”

Like many in the Northeast, Herfurth had earlier worried about the late start. But that’s all changed now.

“We might run out of barrels,” she said.
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Season Update #6: Midwest comes to life; Big sap runs in the Northeast

Peter Gregg | March 29, 2019

CADOTT, Wisc.—Sap was running everywhere this week, even in the Midwest which had barely started only a week ago.

“It’s running good here in some areas but the North is still a little slow,” said Peter Roth of Roth Sugar Bush in Cadott, Wisc.

Roth estimated he was at about 35 percent of a crop at his farm in Cadott, Wisc. as of this week.

Chris Ransom of Vadnais Heights, Minn. and president of the Minnesota Maple Producers Association said the season in his state was just starting to wake up after a harsh winter, but generally not too far off a typical start time for the season.

“At my place anyway, my average first sap run has been on about March 10 each year. This year it was the 15th so not much of a delay,” Ransom told the Maple News on Friday, March 29.

“I’d say we're at the beginning of the season and that most people are optimistic that the weather patterns are ‘textbook’ for sapping for the next week or so,” he said. MORE ]

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Season Update #5: The season comes alive for some, still a trickle for north

Peter Gregg | March 22, 2019

SUNDERLAND, Vt. — The season is finally opening up in the central strip of the Maple Belt, with some sugarmakers buried in sap this week.

“It’s going to run like crazy,” said sugarmaker Jim Hayden of Sunderland, Vt. as he was boiling on Tuesday, March 20.

And sure enough it did, with an ocean of sap coming in during the 50 degree day on Wednesday in central and southern Vermont and neighboring New York. Sap ran through the night and into Thursday.

“I am sleep deprived,” said sugarmaker Tim Dwyer of Shushan, N.Y. MORE ]

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Season Update #4: Season slowly starts to wake up in Northeast

Peter Gregg | March 14, 2019

HARDWICK, N.J. — The season is just starting to wake up in the Northeast late this week, while others in the southern areas of the U.S. Maple Belt are on a record pace.

“I’ve boiled 13 times already,” said Tom Phillips, who is boiling off 1,041 taps in Hardwick, N.J. and enjoying his best season ever.

“This year has been perfect temperatures,” he said. “Here it warms up just enough to get a good run and then freezes up again.

Phillips said most of his crop so far has been lighter grades of syrup, a flip flop from the last two years when it was all dark.

“I’ve made 90 percent light so far,” Phillips said on Tuesday during a tour for The Maple News. MORE ]