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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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.
MORE ]

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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.”
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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 ]

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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 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.
MORE ]

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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 ]

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Sap! zapped in Shark Tank

Leon Thompson | March 20, 2018

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Stockwells named 'Producer of Year'

Theresa Baroun | January 12, 2018

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 fpaq.ca.
MORE ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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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 ]

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Scenes from the NAMSC/IMSI

Staff | November 2015

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Taking Flight

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 ]

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Ontario maple producers reach out to 85,000 consumers

By Bryan Exley, Ontario Maple Producers Association |

These events are huge and comprise of 50 or more different organizing committees, 1200 volunteers, and 1,000 acres of loaned farm land just to make the event work. The 2015 International Plowing Match was hosted by the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry near the town of Finch, Ontario from September 22 to 26, 2015 and the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers were there. MORE ]