CUTTINGSVILLE, Vt.—Successful season.
The men of Stewart Maple of Cuttingsville, Vt. were tired but happy with the 2023 season.
They may have had the longest season in the U.S. with the first boil on Nov. 28 and the last boil on April 12.
“We made 6.3 pounds per tap,” said Elliott Stewart. “Our goal for the future is one gallon per tap. Which seems crazy and everyone laughs when I say that, but that’s what we’re working for.”
The Stewarts turn on pumps at the beginning of the season and turn them off on the last day. [ MORE ]
RUPERT, Vt.—The 2023 U.S. maple syrup crop was down somewhat over last year, with producers making 4.18 million gallons, down 15 percent from 2022, according to the USDA.
Vermont led the way with a total of two million gallons produced.
Runner-up states were New York with 750,000 gallons, Maine with 470,000 gallons and Wisconsin at 402,000 gallons, according to USDA. [ MORE ]
LONGUEUIL, Que.—Quebec’s maple harvest totaled 124 million pounds, with an average per-tap production of 2.43 pounds.
It’s the smallest crop in five years, off dramatically from the 211 million pounds from last year.
In reaction, Québec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) last month announced it will be adding another 7 million taps into its production quota system.
These 7 million new taps must be installed by April 1, 2026. By that time, Québec will have a total of 58 million taps in production, the federation said.
Meanwhile, the Global Maple Syrup Strategic Reserve currently holds 33 million pounds.
Buyers and processors also possess an estimated 65 million pounds of inventory, the Quebec federation said.
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RUPERT, Vt.—For many, the sap has stopped. Before putting a sugarbush to bed, critical steps should be taken.
"It's not enough to remove taps and move on," said maple specialist Mike Rechlin of Future Generations University in Franklin, W.V.
"You've got to get the gunk out. You don't want to leave it there. You want to clean it, but you want to do more than that. Cleaning is one thing, sanitizing is a completely different thing."
Cleaning alone doesn't rid lines of fungi, yeast and bacteria that can build up and ruin sap and syrup next season, if left untreated.
"Sap lines are porous material. Fungi, yeast and bacteria become imbedded in the porosity of that material, deep down in the line structure," Rechlin said during a recent talk, "The End of Year Clean, Sanitation 101.
"We want to kill the bacteria not only on the surface, but deeply imbedded in structure of that material. Spores and fungus can stay active and alive for two or more years. If they haven't been killed in your sap line, then it's there to cause problems before you ever tap a tree next season."
"So it's important to clean and sanitize so you aren't starting next year's race behind the start line," he said. [ MORE ]
HARPERSFIELD, N.Y.—Sugarmakers are making a lot of light syrup, as the season hits its peak.
At Shaver Hill Maple in Harpersfield, N.Y. there was an hour-long wait for pancakes during the first of two open house weekends at the farm, with a big turnout of visitors.
Meanwhile, out of the 1900 gallons of syrup made so far, 1700 gallons of it was light syrup, said owner Dwayne Hill.
“There’s an abundance of light syrup, that’s for sure,” he told The Maple News on Sunday.
Damian Hill said even the small backyard producers in the area had been making Golden.
“They’re all calling here telling us they can’t believe how much light syrup they’re making,” Damian Hill said.
Nearby, at Thompson’s Sugar Shack in Jefferson, owner Dan Thompson was also having a great season so far, with lots of light syrup made.
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NORTH GRANVILLE, N.Y.—A lot of sugarmakers are still enjoying good runs of sap.
“Hopefully we have nice prolonged season, I don’t want warm weather,” said Matt Rathbun of Rathbun’s Maple in North Granville, N.Y. and host of the annual first tree tapping ceremony with N.Y. state agriculture commissioner Richard Ball and other dignitaries.
Way up in Ellenburg, N.Y., Michael Bennett of 30,000-tap Full Throttle Maple was still waiting to get going.
“I haven’t been very busy yet,” Bennett told The Maple News. “We are lacking probably 4 to 6 degrees to get a decent run,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of little runs.”
Still, Bennett said he was ahead of his production compared to the same date last year. [ MORE ]
St. ALBANS, Vt.—A gangbuster start.
Sugarmakers in Vermont have been smiling about the big February runs and some halfway decent sap to start off March.
“We’ve boiled three times already and are at probably 10 percent of a crop,” said Sean Connor of Connor Maple in St. Albans, Vt. during the annual Governor’s Tree Tapping Ceremony hosted by the farm on Friday.
Gov. Phil Scott was on hand to drill the ceremonial first tree and hang a sap bucket to kick off the maple season in the Green Mountain State. The event was organized by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association.
Connor said the farm started drilling its 9,000 taps in early February and caught the early runs, happy to get the leaks checked and the lines tight in time for the weird—or maybe not-so-weird anymore—February warm-up.
“My grandma always said to tap around St. Patrick’s Day but you can’t do that anymore,” Connor said. [ MORE ]
BURLINGTON, Conn.—A monster early sap run and unseasonably warm weather has sugarmakers scrambling and scratching their heads.
“It’s been an odd season,” said 5,600-tap sugarmaker Rob Lamothe of Lamothe’s Sugar House in Burlington, Conn. during a visit from The Maple News on Wednesday, when temperatures hit 65 degrees.
“It’s been abnormally warm and we're not getting freezing nights ahead. It should not be this warm,” Lamothe said.
Lamothe has been making syrup for more than 50 years and said the weather patterns have changed.
“It used to be we would’ve never tapped a tree before Washington’s birthday and now if you’re not tapped by February 1 you lose a third of your crop,” he said.
Lamothe’s neighbor, Ray Kasulaitis of Barkhamsted, Conn. said the season might be over before it even got started.
“Trees are already started to bud out,” he told The Maple News on Wednesday.
In Berlin, N.Y. longtime sugaring partners Kent Goodermote and Todd Hewitt, who have been making syrup for 48 seasons, were getting ready for their first boil of the season on Wednesday.
Earlier than normal they said, but when the season is here, it's here. [ MORE ]