Vermont sugarmaker re-purposing old sap buckets and looking for more

Paul Post | October 15, 2021

Mt. HOLLY, Vt.—Sugarmaker Adam Karle is preserving a key element of sugarmaking history by giving new life to old sap buckets.

The Mount Holly, Vermont producer uses them to make unique maple leaf-designed lights that are selling like hotcakes, coast to coast, since he first introduced them last spring.

"The original intent was for people to dress up their sugarhouse or shed, but people have taken these things to a whole other level, decorating their homes," Karle said. "Hey, whatever it takes, I'm all for it. That's awesome. I've already been shipping them to people from California and down South."

Galvanized sap buckets are no longer used for sap collection in the industry on a commerical basis, and discouraged to be used by hobbists because they are not considered food-grade. MORE ]


NYS Maple Association bringing back the Mid-Winter Classic

Peter A Gregg | October 15, 2021

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—It's back!

The biggest maple show in the industry will be coming back after a two-year absence on January 7-8, 2022 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y.

The Board of Directors of the NYS Maple Producers’ Association met October 12 and decided that the Mid-Winter Classic conference, workshops and trade show will be safe to have in person this winter.



Maple syrup soda taps into early success

Stan Maddux | October 6, 2021

BROWNSVILLE, Ind.—Response at the Indiana State Fair could decide if a newly developed maple soda pop winds up on store shelves.

A maple syrup producer has teamed up with a craft beverage maker to create a recipe and gauging future prospects of the drink.

“It’s selling really well,” said the soda pop inventor Kevin Hart, who makes syrup from taps in a 110 acre woods outside Brownsville.

Hart is also President of the Indiana Maple Syrup Association.

Hart has been selling maple cream soda since the spring at farmers markets he works primarily in central Indiana. MORE ]


Natural gas evaporators a good option to consider

Stan Maddux | October 6, 2021

MERRILL, Wisc.—Great stuff if you can get it.

There’s nothing maple syrup makers shouldn’t like about using natural gas evaporators to boil down their sap unless it’s breaking from tradition.

Natural gas is much cheaper and easier to use than most other evaporator fuels and it’s always there whenever needed, said Joel Oelke, a Midwest Regional Salesperson for Leader Evaporator headquartered in Swanton, Vermont.

Oelke said evaporators running on natural gas are becoming more popular but holding back sales is lack of access to a pipeline carrying the cleaner burning fuel.

“A lot of sugarhouses are in remote locations where natural gas just isn’t available,” he said.

Oelke from his home office in Merrill, Wisconsin, is involved in sales for Leader Evaporator throughout the Midwest and as far east as New York and Pennsylvania. MORE ]


Fall maple conference in Niagara Falls is canceled due to Covid

Peter Gregg | Sept. 2, 2021

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Covid cancelations are back.

After two years of planning and preparation, the “Maple at the Falls” Niagara Falls NAMSC/IMSI meetings scheduled for late October, have been canceled.

The New York State Maple Producers’ Association said in an announcement Thursday that the planning group attempted nearly every avenue to make the meetings work and to ensure that they would be held.

But Canadian border closures and restrictions, a rapidly rising COVID 19 infection rate nationwide, travel restrictions being placed on research presenters/specialists and vendor hesitation left the committee with few choices.



Quebec to add 7 million new taps instead of 3 million

Peter Gregg | July 21, 2021

LONGUEUIL, Que.—Quebec producers will be adding seven million new taps into their quota system by 2023, dramatically increasing an announced expansion from last month.

“We’re not trying to one-up anybody, we’re looking at it as a business,” said David Hall, a 25,000-tap producer from Cowansville, Que. and a director for the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers federation.

The federation had announced in June a three million tap expansion of its government sanctioned quota system.

But since then the federation hired an actuary to study its current syrup holdings against the marketplace and determined that by December the federation’s warehouses could drain to critically low levels, prompting the release of four million more taps.

Hall said that since the end of the 2021 season, U.S. bulk buyers have stepped up to buy 50 million pounds out of the federation's Global Strategic Reserve, which stockpiles surplus syrup from season to season.

By the end of the year, there could be only 40 million pounds left in the reserve of table grade syrup, Hall said.



Consumers want to know what state their syrup is coming from, especially from Vermont

Peter Gregg | July 9, 2021

MONTPELIER, Vt.—Consumers are more like to buy maple if the state in which it was produced is identified on the label.

“Consumers really want to see the state branded on their product,” said researcher Matthew George of the Atlantic Corporation, a market research company hired by the Vermont agency of agriculture to study consumer preferences for maple and maple products.

More than 1,800 consumers were polled for their maple preferences in the Northeast-based study titled "Identifying Market Opportunities for Maple Syrup Producers in Vermont.”

More than 36 percent said the geographic origin of their syrup was “very important.”

The research focused on all aspects of maple marketing big and small and is available online at


Sugarmakers raising their prices at the sugarhouse and the farm stand

Peter Gregg | June 29, 2021

TEMPLE, N.H.—Sugarmakers are raising farm prices in direct-to-consumer sales.

It is following a trend for just about every consumer staple in the marketplace, from airline tickets to chicken cutlets.

“We upped our price in our gift shop to $75 a gallon,” said Ben Fisk of Fisk’s Maple Syrup in Temple, N.H. during the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association last month. “We’ll see if it sells. It’s inflation.”

Fisk had been selling a gallon for $60.

At the same meeting, sugarmaker Charlie Hunt of Hunt’s Maple Syrup in Hillsborough, N.H. said he was going to raise his quart prices to $20 as soon as he got home. He was at $17. MORE ]


Quebec sugarmakers to add 3 million new taps by 2023

Peter Gregg | June 15, 2021

LONGUEUIL, Que.—Quebec’s sugarmakers will be allotted a minimum of 3 million new taps through its quota system by 2023.

The announcement Tuesday of a big tap increase from the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers federation comes on the heels of a short crop and sky high syrup demand around the world.

At the same time, the province's syrup reserve is draining quickly, with zero organic syrup left.

“With a need for supply to keep up with demand, the conclusion is evident, Québec’s maple industry is booming!” said Geneviève Martineau, spokesperson for the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers federation, which governs the production of syrup in the province.

The federation hinted even more taps may be allotted into the province's quota system.



He finally won it! After four and a half decades of trying N.H. sugarmaker wins top prize for syrup

Peter Gregg | May 24, 2021

BOSCOWEN, N.H.—Persistence pays off.

It took 46 years, but Steven Osborn of Osborn Family Sugar House in Boscowen, N.H. finally won the Carlisle Cup, known formally at the Lawrence A Carlisle Memorial Trophy, the prize for being judged the best syrup in New Hampshire.

“I’ve been chasing this thing a long time,” Osborn said on Saturday, cradling the cup following his win at the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association held this weekend in Plymouth, N.H.

Osborn, who sugars off of 200 taps with his son Jeff, first started attending NHMPA meetings in 1974, and annually entered his syrup in the association’s judging contest, known to be the most rigorous in the U.S. maple industry.



On the lookout for abandoned sugarhouses

Peter Gregg | May 7, 2021

FAYSTON, Vt.—A Vermont woman is starting a database of abandoned sugarhouses.

Dori Ross is the founder of The Sugarhouse Project, an online registery of old sugarhouses.

“I have spent a lot of time with old sugarmakers in their sugarhouses, talking to them and listening to their stories,” Ross said. “This rich history needs to be preserved somehow.”


Season Update #2: Drills blazing, open house weekends canceled except Maine's

Peter Gregg | January 27, 2021

CHERRY VALLEY, N.Y.—Drills are blazing.

Across the Maple Belt sugarmakers were getting taps in hoping to catch an early thaw.

“We got 6,000 in and we're ready,” said Ken Chase of Ern-Joy Farm in Cherry Valley, N.Y.

Chase had been tapping for three weeks straight, saying he learned a lesson three years ago when he waited to tap and missed out on some January runs. Last year he was tapped by mid January and it paid off. He made 110 gallons of January syrup.

The forecast for the remainder of January doesn’t indicate any such luck this year. Still, Chase feels he did the right thing.

“At some point it’s gonna thaw and we’ll be ready,” Chase said. MORE ]


Meet the Brix Balancer. New D&G machine balances the density

Peter Gregg | December 15, 2020

LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—Meet the Brix Balancer.

Ever had to add permeate to a barrel of syrup because your brix was too high?

Last season researchers at Cornell's Uihlein Maple Research Center had an opportunity to demo a Brix Equalizer by Dominion and Grimm.

The innovative unit has a digital in-line brix meter that measures the finished brix of syrup after being drawn-off and filtered, but before being packed into a barrel.

A digital touch panel screen allows the user to set the desired brix level and if the unit reads a brix higher than the set point, it will inject a little permeate water from a small tank on the machine.



Finding Home Farms wins national award

Peter Gregg | December 8, 2020

GREENVILLE, N.Y.—A New York sugarhouse won a national award for its innovative rye barrel syrup.

Finding Home Farms, owned by Dana and Laura Putnam, won the Product of the Year from the Specialty Food Association’s 2020 Sofi Awards.

The rye barrel aged maple syrup was chosen in a blind taste test, selected by a panel of specialty food experts from nearly 2,000 entries across 39 product categories. This product is made in collaboration with Orange County Distillery, a farm distillery based in Orange County N.Y. MORE ]


Got 'sick' syrup? Find out why

Peter Gregg | November 26, 2020

WESTFORD, Vt.—Got sick syrup? Find out why.

The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association will be conducting a virtual diagnostic on submitted syrup, helping sugarmakers identify bad syrup and its causes.

The online session is called “Tele-Maple Medicine: Why Does My Syrup Taste Sick” and part of the weeklong 2020 Maple Conference Week Dec. 6 through Dec. 11 hosted by the VMSMA and the experts from the University of Vermont maple program.

The VMSMA has been seeking two ounce samples of off-flavor syrup and panelists will create a live show, tasting and diagnosing the issue. MORE ]


Branon Family Maple Orchards unveils pouch packaging

Peter Gregg | November 17, 2020

FAIRFIELD, Vt.—Branon Family Maple Orchards is the latest operation to come out with pouch packaging.

Called “Maple to Go!” the family farm says the new packaging system “allows maple lovers to bring pure Vermont maple syrup along with them wherever and whenever they travel.”

“We had people tell us they wanted to bring our maple syrup with them whenever they went someplace, but they couldn’t justify lugging a pint jug around,” said Cecile Branon, co-owner of 80,000-tap Branon Family Maple Orchards located in Fairfield, Vt.

Maple to Go! is a 3.4-ounce (100 ml) food-grade pouch of organic Grade A amber/rich Vermont maple syrup with a re-closable, no-mess twist cap that allows for multiple usage. MORE ]


Leader Evaporator and H20 Innovation partner up

Peter Gregg | November 11, 2020

MASON, Mich.—Leader Evaporator Co. and H20 Innovation will start carrying each other’s equipment at their respective U.S. dealerships.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” said Leader’s chairwoman Mary Fogle Douglass, owner of Sugar Bush Supplies in Mason, Mich., a major Leader dealer.

Douglass hosted her annual fall open house virtually on Oct. 24, where she made the H20 announcement.

“We thought about what things we are missing and how people can get it quickly,” Douglass said.

Some of the big ticket items that Leader dealers will start carrying are H20’s line of large size tanks.

“They have a huge line,” Douglass said.



And then there were none... Last of the winter maple shows canceled

Peter Gregg | October 29, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—And then there were none.

The last remaining scheduled winter maple shows have now been canceled.

The 2021 New York Winter Maple Conference has become the latest maple event to succumb to the COVID -19 virus. Also canceled this week, the Wisconsin Winter Institute hosted by the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association.

The WMSPA will instead be hosting a virtual edition of the event, with a large agenda of educational seminars via Zoom. MORE ]


‘Tree Water’ company looking for permeate suppliers

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant | October 28, 2020

KATONAH, N.Y.—Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water is looking for more permeate.

The three-year-old water company has landed a deal with beverage giant Anheuser-Busch and is looking to add to its maple permeate supply base, said company founder Adam Lazar.

Asarasi has also collaborated with Goose Island Brewery producing the world's first 100% plant-based beer called Tree Water Pilsner with Anheuser Busch and the product sold out in under a week, Lazar said.

"This opportunity continues to lead to more significant volume sourcing and we are excited to bring this opportunity to all New York State Maple Producers," he said.

Asarasi said it is looking for permeate suppliers of 5,000+ gallons in any given maple season, Lazar said.

Interested producers can check out supplying opportunities at PASSWORD: PERMEATE MORE ]


Syrup sales through the roof at retail this fall

Peter Gregg | October 14, 2020

WOODSTOCK, Vt.—There’s a maple gold rush this fall.

“Our mail order has been through the roof,” said Ralph Luce of Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock, Vt. “We would typically see maybe 40 orders per month, we’re now getting 150 or more.”

Luce and the entire Luce family were scrambling over Columbus Day weekend tending to the crush of tourists to the 10,000-tap mountaintop farm, flocking to buy syrup and cheese and see the spectacular foilage.

“We’ll have thousands here this weekend,” Luce said, during a tour for The Maple News.

He said crowds were coming from more regional locations like New York and Boston, theorizing that tourists were opting for local fall vacations due to the pandemic.

Crowds were good about wearing masks, Luce said.

“We’re trying to keep people outside and spread out,” he said.

Luce said since the spring syrup sales have been stronger than ever.


States press on with fall maple events

Peter Gregg | October 6, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Instead of apples and pumpkins, how about maple syrup?

States across the Maple Belt will be participating in a “Fall in Love with Maple” open house event throughout October, competing with traditional fall agritourism events.

“This year has been everything but normal, but one thing that has remained the same is the sweet golden syrup that we can celebrate as the autumn leaves color up,” said Helen Thomas, executive director of the New York State Maple Producers Association.


Birch season in U.S. down over last year

Peter Gregg | August 2, 2020

LAKE PLACID, N.Y.—The U.S. birch season was largely a bust this spring.

"At our facility and from what I have heard from many others, we had below average birch yields due to very cold weather and lack of rainfall in late April and early May," said Michael Farrell of The Forest Farmers in Mansfield, Vt. who oversees production on one of the largest birch operations in the U.S. with 16,000 taps.

"We also only tapped a portion of our trees in NY and none in Vermont due to issues around COVID."

Most producers said their production of birch, known as the little brother crop to maple, was off mostly due to bad weather.


Soaking old sap in pans an effective cleaner

Peter Gregg | July 14, 2020

HEBRON, N.Y.—It’s nasty and stinks but it works.

The old school way of pan cleaning after a season—letting last-day-of-the-season sap soak in the pans for five or six months—has been a proven method.

This season at The Maple News sugarhouse in Hebron, N.Y. we tried it for the second year in a row. We have had success after much smell enduring.

In April, we filled our pans and Steam-Away with skunked sap to the brim.

Through the spring, a bubbling, green, oozing crust grew like a science experiment.

By early July it transformed into an almost pleasant, brown cidery vinegar. MORE ]


Aunt Jemima brand of 'pancake' syrup to be discontinued

Peter Gregg | June 25, 2020

PURCHASE, N.Y.—The number one competitor of pure maple syrup—Aunt Jemima—will soon be no longer.

The fake syrup category leader has fallen to the Black Lives Matter movement and the brand will be discontinued, according to the corn syrup’s parent company, The Quaker Oats Company, owned by Pepsi Co.

“We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype,” said Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Quaker Foods North America.

The company said it will remove the image of Aunt Jemima from its packaging and change the name of the brand sometime next year.


Syrup producer making hand sanitizer in response to crisis

Peter Gregg | May 7, 2020

JEFFERSON, Ohio—Hand sanitizer could be the latest value-added crop from maple.

One Ohio producer is waiting for FDA approval to start distilling commercial grade syrup into ethanol as part of a recipe for a maple-based hand sanitizer.

“The demand for hand sanitizers is ridiculous,” said Nathan Bissell of Bissell Maple Farms in Jefferson, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Bissell has converted his idled syrup packing line into a hand sanitizer packing line, responding to the COVID-19 crisis and high demand for the virus killing product. MORE ]


Bascom's reopens for drum deliveries

Peter Gregg | May 4, 2020

ALSTEAD, N.H.—Bascom Maple Farms reopened their docks today, allowing sugarmakers to bring their crop for delivery, but by appointment only.

“Due to the unusually large amount of drum traffic yet to come in we are requesting producers call for a dock appointment,” said Bascom’s owner Bruce Bascom.

Field buyers for Bascom will also be deployed this week, and will be looking for syrup. MORE ]


Spring tick season expected to 'explode'

Peter Gregg | April 30, 2020

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—Tick activity this spring is expected to explode, according to a Vermont sugarmaker and power lineman who trains personnel on tick safety.

“Springtime, April and May, we usually see a large tick explosion,” said Michael Christian, a sugarmaker from Orwell, Vt. and a crew manager for the state’s Green Mountain Power company, who has spent decades fighting ticks and establishing safety protocols for power line crews.

“By the end of June or July they go back in the ground,” Christian said. “Then they come back in September to feed again.”

Christian led a seminar at the Addison County Maple Conference in January where sugarmakers shared their defensive tactics and horror stories of other sugarmakers contracting Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses associated with tick bites.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 ]


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 ]


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 ]


U.S. agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue tours Vermont sugarhouse

Peter Gregg | March 8, 2019

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 ]


Wisconsin sugarmakers cry foul over misleading Menards syrup ad

Peter Gregg | March 7, 2019

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 ]


Gov. Sununu kicks off 2019 season in New Hampshire

Peter Gregg | March 5, 2019

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.


Season Update #3: Sugarmakers mostly idle, but some have made syrup

Peter Gregg | March 1, 2019

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.”


Season Update #2: In Vermont, a slow start to season so far and that's ok

Peter Gregg | February 15, 2019

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 ]


Verona maple show moves to Syracuse

Keith Schiebel | January 3, 2019

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 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.


Low bulk prices squeeze the middle sized producer

Mark Cannella, University of Vermont Extension | November 7, 2018

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 ]


Sap! zapped in Shark Tank

Leon Thompson | March 20, 2018



Stockwells named 'Producer of Year'

Theresa Baroun | January 12, 2018



The 2018 New York State Maple Producers Winter Conference

| Jan. 4, 2018

The 2018 New York State Maple Conference Friday evening program will feature two great options starting at 5:30.

One option is a show and tell on making maple cream on various kinds of equipment and comparing the results.

The second will feature Brad Gillian, president of Leader Evaporator, explaining the IMSI social media initiative and its power to enhance maple marketing. MORE ]


Innovators speak at Federation's annual general meeting

Submitted | Dec. 28, 2017

On November 22 and 23, the Federation held its annual general meeting in Lévis, on the south shore of Quebec City, where the IMSI meeting was also held this year.

This year during the conferences, the Federation wanted to underline the innovative aspects of our sector and to promote the entrepreneurship of the maple syrup producers. MORE ]


Late October storm pounded Vermont sugarmakers

Paul Post | Dec. 21, 2017

Bob White says some parts of his property looks like it was used for an Air Force bombing range.

A half-mile away, Dave Davis thought a locomotive was coming through his house, which shook violently from sustained high winds that reached up to 80 mph.

They’'re among the scores of northern Vermont maple producers still digging out, clearing away downed trees, and trying to assess damage from a severe storm that ripped through their area the night of Sunday, Oct. 29. MORE ]


Hubbell Award goes to sugarmaker Dale Moser

| Dec. 12, 2017

Dale Moser of Beaver Falls, N.Y. was awarded the Hubbell Award by the New York State Maple Producers Association on Aug. 15. Moser is active in maple sugaring where he works with his three sons, Don, Jake and Bryan.

Moser’s Maple has been in continuous operation since 1970 and at one time Dale ran a Small Brothers Maple Dealership till the Mid 80’s. MORE ]


Storm takes toll on some Vermont sugarmakers

Paul Post | Nov. 17, 2017

Bob White says some parts of his property looks like it was used for an Air Force bombing range.

A half-mile away, Dave Davis thought a locomotive was coming through his house, which shook violently from sustained high winds that reached up to 80 mph.

They’'re among the scores of northern Vermont maple producers still digging out, clearing away downed trees, and trying to assess damage from a severe storm that ripped through their area the night of Sunday, Oct. 29. MORE ]


A sweet legacy for Vermont’s King of Maple

Anson Tebbetts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture | Nov. 1, 2017

January 1984.

The King of Pop had the number one song and the King of Maple was just beginning his career at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

Henry Marckres began inspecting products like apples, potatoes and strawberries and let’s not forget eggs. To become a certified egg grader, the training meant candling 5,000 eggs per day for more than a month.

An “egg-stroidnary” career was underway. MORE ]


Colleges tap into education through maple

Mike Rechlin | Sept. 21, 2017

The maple syrup industry has always had important links to Colleges and Universities. As an industry that continues to go through rapid changes in technology, we rely heavily on university research to drive innovation and change.

There are, however, growing connections being made between the sugarhouse and the classroom; ways in which the science, history, and culture of maple syrup making enrich the educational offerings at many colleges and universities. MORE ]


Record-breaking season floods bulk market

Peter Gregg | Sept. 9, 2017

Bulk marketers are buried in syrup after two back to back record-breaking seasons in the United States.

“The bulk market is flooded,” said Bruce Bascom of Bascom Maple Farms in Alstead, N.H. “Absolutely flooded.”

Average bulk prices in the United States in 2017 are about $2.10 per pound for the lightest grades, $2.00 per pound for the medium and dark grades and between $1.60 and $1.85 for the very dark grades. Some buyers pay bonuses for organic. MORE ]


Low-interest loans available to maple producers

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant | Sept. 1, 2017

Could you use a loan for expanding your maple operation’s storage capacity? You’re in luck — if you qualify.

FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program offers farmers low-interest loans to improve their farm’s storage capacity and includes maple operations.

David Holck, executive director for Farm Service Agency for Washington, Warren, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties in New York, said that containers for maple sap and lines to the evaporator are eligible for FSFLs, and, an addition to the FSFL recently announced by the USDA, containers for syrup, too. MORE ]


Get ready for CMSPM Conference this weekend

| Aug. 22, 2017

Get ready to attend the 2017 Commercial Maple Syrup Producers of Michigan (CMSPM) “Tapping into the Future’ maple educational conference at the Treetops Resort in Gaylord, Michigan.

The conference will begin Friday evening Aug. 25 with a panel discussion of industry experts from Leader, CDL and LaPierre. MORE ]


It's not too late to attend the New York Maple Tour

| August 2017

The Lewis County Maple Producer Association will be hosting the 2017 New York State Maple tour. The tour is scheduled for August 13th, 14th, and 15th. Attendees from across the Empire State will have the opportunity to visit local maple syrup producers, examine their facilities, and engage fellow producers. The tour will also include a stop at Shultz’s cheese curd, one of the area’s leading producers of cheese curd. The tour will include a trade show and banquet at the Ridgeview lodge in Lowville, NY. Participants will be bused to each stop. MORE ]


Don’t miss the 2017 Vermont Maplerama

Sloan Bullard | July 20, 2017

Vermont Maplerama, the summer tour that features the showplace sugarhouses of Vermont is slated for Aug. 3-5. This year’s event is hosted by the Lamoille County Sugarmakers and will take place at the VFW in Hyde Park, Vt. The event includes tours, a trade show, banquet and awards ceremony, and a Saturday BBQ. MORE ]


Program offers easy money to sugarmakers

Peter Gregg | May 2017

Nothing beats free money.
An energy savings incentive program in Vermont largely paid for new flue pan preheaters for 18 oil-burning sugarmakers last year, with even more money slated for 2017.  Applications are now being accepted in Vermont for up to $7,500 in grants for preheaters.
“I’ve never done a grant program that was so easy,” said Mark Stewart, who along with sons Elliot and Tanner, taps 25,000 in the central Vermont hamlet of Cuttingsville.  “It was very easy.” MORE ]


Season wrapping up for most, but far north hangs on

Peter Gregg | April 8, 2017

The last gasp of the season for most this weekend.
“The lower elevation trees are on the way out,” said Dale Aines, of 20,000-tap Mettowee Valley Maple in Pawlet, Vt. on Tuesday. MORE ]


New VMSMA container timeline finalized

| March 31, 2017

Coming June 1st! New plastic containers from the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association featuring revised branding will be available on June 1 from Hillside Plastics Co.’s Sugarhill Containers.

“With the 2017 season underway, we’re excited to finally be able to announce a timeline for the roll-out of VMSMA’s new plastic and glass containers featuring the revised Vermont Maple Syrup branding,” the association said. MORE ]


Season winding down in the middle latitudes

Peter Gregg | March 2017

It could be close to the end for sugarmakers in the middle latitudes of the Maple Belt.

“My last boil was Thursday,” Wayne Palmer, a sugarmaker in Hebron, Ct. told The Maple News on March 24. “The last two days we were getting that not so nice smell in the sugarhouse, when you stop getting that nice vanilla smell and it changes.” MORE ]


Flatlander hitting heights

Peter Gregg | February 2017

They call him the hardest working flatlander in Vermont.

Eric Sorkin is a lawyer by training and hails from New Jersey, but he’s becoming one of the kingpins of the Vermont maple industry, with 81,000 taps on the back side of Mt. Mansfield and an innovative retail business that’s taking maple into a new culinary realm, far beyond the jugs and tin.

“We’re shouting from the rooftops that you can do a lot more with this stuff,” he said. “It’s so unique. It’s so special.” MORE ]


Another reset coming this week, hopes to extend season

Peter Gregg | March 13, 2017

Another big reset is happening across the Maple Belt, freezing trees.

“We’ve had so many highs and lows in temperatures this season,” said Mark Spence of Spence’s Sugar Bush in Spring Valley, Wisc., where he and his three sons have made 13 barrels so far. MORE ]


Research explores birch syrup production

Northern New York Agricultural Development Program | February 8, 2017

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the results of a project exploring opportunities for regional maple sugarmakers to produce birch syrup. Four sugarhouses participated in the 2015-2016 birch syrup project; one each in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Jefferson counties. MORE ]


Sugarmaker launches permeate beverage

Peter Gregg | February 2017

Leave it to a sugarmaker to find an innovative way to make money from R/O permeate water. They call it Asarasi. MORE ]


New quotas are finally here

| Oct. 27, 2016

On October 7, 2016, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup drew lots to allocate 1.1 million new taps in the young entrepreneur and startup categories. The public draw was held at the Centrexpo in Drummondville and live streamed on the Federation’s Facebook page. A video of the draw and the list of winners can be viewed at


CDL opens another superstore in Maine

Peter Gregg | CDL opens another superstore in Maine

CDL today opened its eleventh superstore in the U.S., along busy Route 2 in central Maine.

Maine Gov. Paul LaPage, state Rep. Russell Black and other dignitaries were on hand for a "tubing cutting" opening ceremony. MORE ]


Farrell to resign from Cornell's Uihlein maple program

| Oct. 6, 2016

A letter to the maple industry from Michael Farrell, Director of Cornell University Uihlein Forest Maple Research Center in Lake Placid, N.Y: MORE ]


5 million new taps to be let in Quebec on Friday

| Oct. 4, 2016

The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers will be auctioning 5 million new taps for the 2017 season, and all upcoming seasons, during a lottery to be held on Friday, October 7. MORE ]


FDA to maple: Drop dead

Peter Gregg |

The food and drug administration this week told the industry it will not be enforcing any mislabeling of fake maple products. MORE ]


Bulk prices to remain stable, but low

Peter Gregg |

Despite what many are calling a record-breaking barn buster of a crop, bulk prices should largely hold from where they were before the season started. MORE ]


Quebec company offers drone mapping services

Peter Gregg |

One of Quebec’s leading technology innovators is offering drone services to sugarmakers, helping producers map out their sugarbush with real arial photos and 3D graphic images of sugarhouses. MORE ]