Season Summaries

  •  Elliott Stewart of Stewart Maple in Cuttingsville, Vt. taps a tree on Dec. 18, getting a big head start on the season. The woods crew includes brother Tanner Stewart and Wyatt Davenport. The farm started tapping Dec. 2.

  •  The woods crew at Stewart Maple in Cuttingsville, Vt. get ready for the day ahead on Dec. 18. The Stewart family has already made 150 gallons of syrup off of the 5,000 taps they have drilled so far.

  •  Tanner Stewart and Elliott Stewart of Stewart Maple in Cuttingsville, Vt. make their way through the woods on Dec. 18. The family started tapping Dec. 2 and hope to have all 40,000 drilled by early February. They hope to capture every freeze thaw along

  •  Elliott Stewart of Stewart Maple in Cuttingsville, Vt. inside the sugarhouse on Dec. 18 with his crop so far. About 150 gallons of Dark Robust syrup made off their 5,000 taps drilled so far. The early trees have produced about 20,000 gallons of 1 percen

  •  Tom Branon of Branon Family Maple in Fairfield, Vt. taps on Dec. 16, getting a early start on the 80,000 the family will ultimately put in for this season.

  •  Kyle Branon of Branon Family Maple in Fairfield, Vt. taps on Dec. 16. Early tappers are more and more of a trend, as big operations utilize modern pump technology that helps keep tapholes fresh well into April.

Season Update #1: Vermont fall tappers get a jump on season

Stewart Maple in Vermont has already made 150 gallons


CUTTINGSVILLE, Vt.—The trend of tapping early is still a thing.

“We’re just trying to capitalize on as many freeze/thaws as we can,” said Elliott Stewart of Stewart Maple in Cuttingsville, Vt., during a woods tour for The Maple News on Dec. 18.  

Stewart, along with brother Tanner and hired man Wyatt Davenport, started tapping their woods on Dec. 2 and caught a few late fall runs, resulting in about 150 gallons of syrup made so far.

As of Dec. 18, the crew had 5,000 taps already drilled and expect to have their full 40,000 in by early February.  

The first 5,000 taps have been productive Stewart said, gushing about 20,000 gallons of sap so far in December although with low sugar content of only 1 percent.

“We’re already at 1/3 of a pound per tap on those 5,000” Stewart said.

This is the second year the family has experimented with early tapping, jumping on to a trend where big operations are tapping earlier and earlier.

In Northern Vermont, the legendary Branon family in Fairfield, Vt. has already started tapping their two sugarbushes, getting as early a start as possible on what will ultimately be 80,000 taps for the family.

Last year, the Stewarts tapped in mid-Dec. and had no issues with tap holes closing up too soon.

“Our taps were running well into April last year,” Stewart said.

Elliott acknowledges that local old timers are skeptical.

“We haven’t been doing this without listening to the old timers,” Elliott said.

But modern technology makes it all possible.

The Stewarts installed a multi-claw screw pump made by Atlas Copco that the family credits with their ability to keep holes fresh over the span of autumn to spring.

“The CFMs are insane,” Elliott said.

The pump will run 24/7 the entire season, Elliott said, keeping at least 28 inches of vacuum on the trees over four or five months.

Meanwhile, back in the sugarhouse, a small collection of filled barrels sit next to the evaporator.  And it is a sight that still seems a little unusual.

“We’re feeling good to be where we’re at so far but it does seem a little weird to be out here this early,” Elliot said.  

“Yeah, it was crazy filling our first drums with the lawn still green outside the sugarhouse,” Tanner said.