MILTON, Vt. — U.S. agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday toured 160,000-tap Georgia Mountain Maples, tapping the ceremonial first tree of the 2019 maple season with Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. and a group of second graders from a nearby school.
It was the first known visit of a sugarhouse by a U.S. agriculture secretary in modern history.
“What we saw here today was an experience here for me,” Perdue said. “I’ve never tapped a maple tree before.”
Perdue, who hails from the state of Georgia and is the former governor of that state, said he was impressed by the operation, owned by the Harrison Family and a showcase facility in the country’s biggest maple state.
“It was good to come and see a modern plant here,” the secretary said of the sugarhouse, which sits on a ledge at the base of Georgia Mountain. “I was blown away that Vermont produces half the syrup the U.S. consumes. I’m happy to be here during maple tapping season.” [ MORE ]
MENOMONIE, Wisc.—Sugarmaker Mark Casper said producers in Wisconsin were upset with an apparent mislabeling mixup by Midwest homestore megachain Menards, which was selling Canadian syrup on its website with a “Made in U.S.A.” banner.
As of last week, the superstore chain was advertising Canadian syrup from Bernard & Sons, one of the biggest packers in Quebec, as being “Made in the USA.” The store was selling quarts of the Bernard syrup on its site for $8.99.
The ad has since been changed, with the Made in U.S.A. tag removed. [ MORE ]
HENNIKER, N.H.— Gov. Christopher T. Sununu of New Hampshire tapped the official first maple tree of the state's 2019 sugaring season Monday at a ceremony at Intervale Pancake House in Henniker, N.H.
"We have those guys to the west who think they do it better than we do, but they don’t,” Sununu joked about neighboring Vermont, where the governor of that state plans to tap a ceremonial first tree on Friday at Georgia Mountain Maples in Fairfax, Vt.
Sununu spent more than an hour touring the Intervale facility in Henniker, N.H., visiting with owners Patrick and Melanie Connor and daughter Shelbie Connor who manages the dining room at the popular restaurant and sugarhouse.
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HAMPDEN, Mass.—The 2019 season is still mostly on stand-by but for a few warm-wooded sugarmakers.
“I haven’t done nothing,” Thomas LeRay of Sweet Water Sugarhouse in Royalton, Mass. said on Friday, March 1. “I’ll start tapping on Monday. What’s the sense of tapping sooner and have the sap just sit there?”
Sugarmakers across the Maple Belt have been mostly idle, with a little bit of syrup made last weekend. Most have been frozen solid or buried in snow, or both.
“We got about a foot of snow and 40 mph winds,” said sugarmaker Mark Casper of Menomonie, Wisc. on Feb. 26. “Almost every county and township road in my county was impassable because of drifts up to 13 feet. It’s going to be a rough one trying to get started syruping.”
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WALINGFORD, Vt.—Vermont maple syrup producers have gotten off to a slow start to the season.
But most sugarmakers are characterizing it as a return to “normal” after several years of warm winter sugaring.
“In a normal year, this would be normal,” said 5,500-tap sugarmaker Steve Berger on Friday, Feb. 15, who was just getting into the woods to tap for the first time this season.
“Five or six years ago, we wouldn’t be doing anything in February,” he said.
Indeed the last four to five years have seen Vermont sugarmakers making big portions of their crop in January and February.
Not this year. [ MORE ]
SYRACUSE, N.Y. —A New Year means one thing to maple producers …must be conference time!
For the past 19 years, that meant travel to Verona. Not this year. Travel a bit further down the New York Thruway…or a bit closer...to our new home in Syracuse.
With the same anticipation as firing up a new RO for the first time or adding a new vacuum pump to a collection system, the January Maple Conference is transforming into a new standard for the maple industry…a classic!
Welcome to the 24th Annual Maple Conference and the inaugural "Mid-Winter Maple Classic" at the New York State Fair! We are confident that we’ll have another highly successful show and welcome your participation. With our new location comes new surroundings, new procedures, and a fresh approach to improving an already fantastic show; we think you’ll agree that the new host site is an exceptional facility for our event.
This year’s Mid-Winter Maple Classic is this Friday and Saturday, January 4th and 5th, 2019.
If you have not pre-registered, you can still join us and register at-the-door...but you may need to make plans now. At least the weather won’t be a factor. Friday’s general admission registration opens at 4:00 PM and the show closes Friday at 9:00 PM. Saturday’s general admission registration opens at 7:30 AM and ends at 4:00 PM.
The State Fair’s address is: 581 State Fair Boulevard, Syracuse, NY. Very easy access off Interstate 690. Enter Gate #2. At the security station, state to guard that you are attending the maple show. Drive straight ahead past Fair buildings to the middle of the Fairgrounds. Follow signs and/or direction of parking attendants to parking for Maple Show / Horticulture Building.
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MONTPELIER, Vt.—Scale, production systems, and marketing have a major impact on how a maple business operates and performs.
These factors can impact profits, owner sanity, job creation, land use, and community footprint. “Right-sizing” gets used by business managers to determine the right scale a particular business can operate to accomplish its goals.
Most maple enterprises are unique and the concept of “right-sizing” recognizes that all aspects of an enterprise come to play. The number of taps is not the only factor in right sizing. Market outlets, prices received and management skills are all important.
As global maple production increases the markets, communities, and business owners are facing changes. Vermont, like many other US maple regions, has over a 150 year cultural heritage of syrup production ranging from subsistence production to commercial activity. A long maple history reminds us that there are many “right-sizes” for sugaring that satisfy the goals of the producers.
The declining bulk price over the past 3 years has forced many maple business owners that sell bulk syrup to question if they are or will be at the right size to stay viable.
Agricultural research has demonstrated how mid-scale farms can often get stuck in the middle of the push and pull of economics and consumer preferences (see “Food and the Mid-Level Farm” by Lyson, Stevenson, and Welsh).
The mid-scale maple business is likely to be a full time job for the owners for part of the year. These operators need to earn a livelihood from risky business activity [ MORE ]