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Season Summaries

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Season Update #9: Quebec crop coming in very short but still lots of syrup in reserve

Peter Gregg | April 16, 2021

COWANSVILLE, Que.—Quebec’s crop is significantly down from last year but there’s still plenty of syrup in warehouses.

“We’re going to be 30 million pounds less than last year, is my educated guess,” said David Hall, a 21,000-tap producer in Cowansville, Que. and a director for the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.

Even though the far eastern sugarbushes in the province were still producing late this week, most in Quebec had shut down due to high temperatures and a notoriously low sugar content in the sap, plaguing producers all season.

“Everybody got lots of sap but there just no sugar in it,” Hall said.

Hall squelched a rumor that the federation was scrambling an emergency meeting this week to discuss the short crop. In fact, he said there is still plenty of syrup in storage to satisfy the marketplace through the year.

“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of panic out there,” Hall said. “There’s lots of syrup. It’s possible the numbers could come in a little better when it’s all done.” MORE ]

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Season Update #8: Bulk buy prices jump this week; Northern Vt. crop way down

Peter Gregg | April 9, 2021

ALSTEAD, N.H.—With possibly the worst U.S. crop since at least 2012, bulk prices are jumping up this week.

“As of today, April 9, we have increased our field-run buy prices substantially to the producers,” said Bruce Bascom of Bascom Maple Farms in Alstead, N.H. in an announcement to The Maple News.

Bascom said he will be paying $2.40 per pound for Golden Delicate, $2.30 for Amber Rich, $2.20 for Dark Robust and $2.00 for Very Dark Strong.

Producers who are certified organic will receive upwards of a 20 cent premium on top of that, Bascom said.

Other buyers are also bumping their buy prices this week.

Ben Fisk, president of Ben’s Pure Maple Products in Temple, N.H. also contacted The Maple News on Friday to announce he is looking for 1.5 million pounds of syrup. And will pay top dollar. MORE ]

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Season Update #7: Big crowds but not much sap in Maine; Northern Vt. is lagging too

Peter Gregg | march 29, 2021

LIMERICK, Maine—Not much sap but lots of visitors in Maine.

It was a big bust of a maple season for most in Maine, where sugarmakers were already pulling their taps.

“Not a great season,” said Aaron Carroll of Alderwood Farm in Limerick, Maine. “It was down quite a bit.”

Carroll said he made just 50 gallons off his 750 taps and pulled his taps on Sunday.

‘It was in the 60s all week here so we’re pretty much done,” he told The Maple News.

But what Carroll and other Maine sugarmakers lacked in production they made up for in tourists, with last weekend’s Maine Maple Sunday drawing massive crowds, with visitors filling long lines just to watch sugarmakers boil.

“We’ve sold out of everything,” said Nick Storer of Limerick, who with wife, Abbie and father Mike was busy Sunday entertaining a long line of tourists waiting to buy syrup and watch the Storers boil water since they were out of sap. MORE ]

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Season Update #6: Could be a disaster in the making for some in Northeast

Peter Gregg | March 22, 2021

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y.—Could be a disaster in the making.

Despite a big sap run over the weekend and into Monday, most sugarmakers in the heart of the central Maple Belt are way behind and fretting there may not be enough time to catch up.

“It’s been a late late season,” said sugarmaker Stephen Savage of Peaceful Valley Maple Farms in Johnstown, N.Y.

As of Saturday, Savage had only made about 1,400 gallons off his 25,000 taps, a fraction of where he should be and an even smaller fraction of where he was a year ago at this time.

“By this time last year we were at 4970,” he said during a tour for The Maple News. MORE ]

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Season Update #5: Slow going in New England so far but week ahead looks good

Peter Gregg | March 12, 2021

TEMPLE, N.H.—It’s been slow going.

That’s the word from sugarmakers around New England who are just starting to fire up this week after a long winter with no thaws and not much sap.

‘It’s been wicked slow,” said Scott Kemp who makes syrup in Rindge, N.H. and has only made 15 gallons of syrup so far off his 800 taps.

At the tree tapping ceremony with New Hampshire Gov. Christopher Sununu at Connolly Bros. Dairy and Maple in Temple, N.H. on Friday, sugarmakers were all telling the same tale of woe.

Not much of a season so far and it’s already March 12.

“You better believe I’m worried, oh my goodness,” said Charlie Hunt who taps 3,000 in Hillsborough, N.H. “But we remain optimistic.”

MORE ]

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Season Update #4: Big run coming this weekend

Peter Gregg | February 26, 2021

RAVENNA, Ohio—Sugarmakers across the U.S. were getting ready for the first significant run of the season this weekend.

“We’re tapped and ready,” said Eric Detweiler of Ravenna, Ohio in the Northeast corner of the state.

Detweiler said he usually taps around President’s Day but this year the holiday was frozen solid.

The thaw came this week, and his 40 taps on buckets are already starting to fill.

“We got 20 gallons yesterday and 20 today,” he told The Maple News on Friday. “We’ll start boiling tomorrow.”

Ohio is off to a late start, as are many of the southern states in the Maple Belt, where sugarmakers typically make most of their crop in January and February.

MORE ]

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Season Update #3: Cold snap everywhere shuts out the early crop hopefuls

Peter Gregg | February 16, 2021

LUTSEN, Minn.—Twenty six below is not exactly ideal tapping weather.

“Yeah we got a cold spell so we're sitting and waiting, chomping at the bit to get back out there,” said Kirstin van den Berg of Sawtooth Mountain Maple Syrup Co. in Lutsen, Minn.

van den Berg said she and her crew of six tappers were humming along for a 7 day stretch of good weather, getting about 14,000 drilled before the cold snap came and shut them down the past couple of days.

“We’re taking a break,” she told The Maple News on Tuesday.

She said the temps in her area of the Upper Midwest should go back up above the 20 degree mark, where most experts say is the line for tapping. Tapping in temps colder than that can split trees. MORE ]

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Season Update #1: Early tappers jump the season, but most sugarmakers prepping

Peter Gregg | January 13, 2021

BAINBRIDGE, Ohio—Some southern tapping areas are starting to wake up to a new season.

“As I watched this year’s weather patterns, I got the itch and decided to set these taps even earlier than normal,” said Dana F. Schmidt, who tapped on December 16 at his operation in Bainbridge, southern Ohio.

Schmidt put out 50 early taps on buckets that he dedicated for early tapping. It's something he has done for the past four seasons with varying degrees of success, he said.

This year has been pretty good.

“I have had 4 runs that averaged around 40 -50 gallons of sap each from the 50 taps in the past week,” he said in late December. MORE ]