Bascom's suspends bulk syrup buying for April

Peter Gregg | April 6, 2020

ALSTEAD, N.H.—The nation’s biggest out-of-field bulk syrup buyer is suspending operations for April due to COVID-19 concerns.

Bascom Maple Farms, the New Hampshire farm where sugarmakers flock from across the Northeast to get paid on the barrelhead, said it would immediately cease buying any syrup until early May at its facility.

The company, which also deploys buying agents across the Maple Belt from Ohio to Maine, had already suspended field buying until early May as well.

“Unfortunately, due to world events beyond our control, effective immediately Bascom’s will not be purchasing any maple syrup for the rest of April,” the company announced Monday.

“We anticipate reopening for purchasing syrup around May 4, 2020, but please call ahead to confirm,” the company said. “Recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and State Governments are changing constantly and could affect a reopen date.”


Season Update #8: Syrup flying off the shelves at grocery; season progresses

Peter Gregg | March 24, 2020

ALSTEAD, N.H.—Syrup is flying off the shelves at grocery stores as panicked shoppers stock up for shut-ins against the Coronavirus.

“Grocery syrup sales are very strong and we are struggling to keep up with orders,” said Bruce Bascom of Bascom Maple Farms, one of the biggest grocery suppliers in the U.S..

“Consumers are hoarding food at home," Bascom said. "Maple syrup is a comfort food so if they have to eat at home it is logical that more pancakes and waffles with maple syrup is just what the doctor ordered.”

At the Hannaford supermarket in Greenwich, N.Y. and other places around the U.S., store shelves where syrup usually is stocked were completely wiped out.

“Retail grocery is very strong,” said David Marvin of Butternut Maple Farms in Morrisville, Vt. another leading grocery supplier.


Season Update #7: Dealerships vow to stay open during COVID crisis

Peter Gregg | March 20, 2020

MASON, Mich.—Big equipment dealers are staying open during the Coronavirus crisis while trying to maintain a social distance.

“Open for business,” declared Sugar Bush Supplies in mid-Michigan in a blast email to customers on Thursday.

“During this critical time of production, we want to be available to meet your supplies and equipment needs,” the store said. “At the same tome we are implementing all the prudent cautions necessary to protect you and staff from the COVID-19 virus.”

The national crisis shutting down America came during the peak of maple season, where producers are still running to dealerships for sugaring supplies and repairs.

“We are encouraging our customers to place their order ahead of time instead of waiting in our showroom,” said Benoit Pepin, USA manager of Lapierre Equipment, which operates a typically thriving store in Swanton, Vt.

Most dealerships were following the same protocol.


Border shutdown with Canada will NOT include maple imports

Peter Gregg | March 18, 2020

MONTPELIER, Vt.—The Trump Administration has told agriculture officials in Vermont that the Canadian border shutdown announced today in response to the Coronavirus will not include agricultural products, including maple syrup.

“I just spoke to U.S. agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue and he made it very clear that this does not apply to trade and goods,” Vermont agriculture secretary Anson Tebbetts told The Maple News this morning.

“It will not impact trade and it will not impact goods.”

It was unclear whether employees and executives of the big Canadian maple equipment manufacturers will be able to cross into Vermont and staff their U.S. outlets. MORE ]


Season Update #6: New York, N.H. shut down maple weekends; sugarhouse restaurants close

Peter Gregg | March 16, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—New York’s two-week maple open house event has been canceled, the latest seasonal promotional event to shut down due to the Coronavirus crisis. New Hampshire's state open house event is also closed.

“…we have a responsibility to proactively do our part to promote social distancing and limit the spread of COVID-19,” the New York State Maple Producers Association said in a statement released this morning.

“Even though many of our farms do not see dense crowds for Maple Weekend, we know the risk of remaining open does not outweigh our responsibility to serve the public,” the association said.

The statewide event with 187 participating sugarhouses was scheduled to be open this weekend and March 28-29.


Season Update #5: Vermont cancels maple open house weekend to Coronavirus; others states stay open

Peter Gregg | March 13, 2020

The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association today announced it is cancelling the statewide maple open house weekend scheduled for March 21-22 over concerns about Coronavirus.

“It’s the prudent choice for our sugar makers and anticipated guests,” said Allison Hope, executive director of the VMSMA. All fees associated with the event will be refunded to sugarmakers.

The Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans, Vt. scheudled for the last weekend in April and they nation’s biggest maple festival has also been cancelled.

“The Maple Festival trustees met tonight and have officially cancelled the 2020 Vermont Maple Festival,” said Cecile Branon, one of the festival organizers said late Thursday.

The annual festival was scheduled for April 24-26 in St. Albans, Vt. and was in its 54th year.

Other statewide maple open house weekends are still scheduled in multiple U.S. states over the next two weeks.

“We are monitoring the situation daily,” said Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York State Maple Producers Associaton. “To summarize, as of right now the event will go on as planned.” MORE ]


Bulk market prices stay low for producers in 2020

Peter Gregg | January 24, 2020

MORRISVILLE, Vt.—The downturn in the bulk market continues.

Producers should expect a flat and possibly declining bulk market for 2020, with overflowing inventories from last season and a Canadian exchange rate that continues to be unfavorable for U.S. producers.

“We have reduced our buy price this fall to reflect the adequate inventory we have from our usual suppliers,” said David Marvin, president of Butternut Mountain Farms in Morrisville, Vt., one of the biggest bulk buyers in the nation.

“I expect the carryover inventory and weak Canadian dollar will cause downward pressure on the 2020 crop if it is another big one.” MORE ]


Another climate change study finds that maple season may come earlier

| January 24, 2020

HANOVER, N.H. —Yet another university study of the maple industry is claiming rising daily temperatures is affecting sap flow and sugar content.

By 2100, the maple syrup season in eastern North America may be one month earlier than it was during 1950 and 2017, according to a Dartmouth College study published in Forest Ecology and Management.

“As the climate gets warmer, the sugar maple tapping season will shrink and will get closer to a December date. Maple syrup producers may want to consider adapting their technologies and collection logistics in advance, so that they are prepared for how climate change is going to affect production,” said co-author David Lutz, a research assistant professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth.

The study examined six sugar maple stands from Virginia to Québec, Canada, over a six-year period.