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.


New Leaf Tree Syrups by The Forest Farmers makes sweet debut

Peter Gregg | August 29, 2019

MARSHFIELD, Vt.—Beech syrup? Really?

New Leaf Tree Syrups, the marketing brand of The Forest Farmers which operate sugarhouses in Marshfield, Vt. and Ellenburg, N.Y., announced a new specialty line of organic tree syrups which include American Beech, birch syrup, walnut and of course maple.

“We’re excited to introduce people to a whole new world of tree syrups,” said Dr. Michael Farrell, CEO of New Leaf Tree Syrups. Farrell is the former head of Cornell University’s maple research center in Lake Placid, N.Y. who helped launch the new private operation in 2017, taking his research skills to the private sector.


Maple booming in New York

Paul Post, Peter Gregg | July 7, 2019

HARPERSFIELD, N.Y.—A newly-released USDA Agriculture Census report says maple operations increased 15 percent across New York from 2012-17.

There are now 1,662 maple businesses in the state, according to the ag census, indicating significant industry growth, which could increase opportunities for obtaining state and federal funding to enhance maple production, research and marketing efforts.

“Am I surprised to learn it? Not at all,” said Keith Schiebel, coordinator of the New York State Maple Producers Association’s annual open house weekends and the Mid-Winter Classic maple show in January. “Before, a lot of people supplemented their farm incomes with maple. Now you’re seeing more and more people making their livelihood solely on maple. It’s not just a seasonal thing anymore.”


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.


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 ]


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.