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 this 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.
In Huntington, Vt. the Purinton brothers Cody and Austin planned to start drilling this week and get their 18,000 taps in by mid-February.
Wendy and Guy Gillette in Sherburne, N.Y. were also getting tapped in January, preparing for a new season with new equipment.
“We are getting a new evaporator delivered,” Wendy Gillette told the Maple News last week.
The Gillette’s have put up a new 40 x 80 pole barn and purchased a new CDL evaporator from Dave and Lisa Norton of Mill Creek Maple Suppies in Edmeston, N.Y.
Meanwhile, sugarmakers are scrambling for containers.
There are reports of shortages and both plastic and glass.
A major jug making factory in Canada suffered a fire three weeks ago but was reportedly ramping production back up.
There are widespread reports of major shortages of Mason jar style glass containers in the U.S.
However several maple suppliers were reporting that they were still well stocked with glass.
Donna Hutchison at Mount Pleasant Maple Supplies in Leicester, Vt. said her supply of maple leaf glass containers and other glass was ample, and had confidence she would have enough for her customers.
Jacqueline Dufresne of Dufresne’s Maple Supply in Williamsburg, Mass. also said she was still stocked with glass containers at her shop.
“We want people to know we have glass,” she told The Maple News on Wednesday.
In other news, the coronavirus pandemic has shut down several maple open weekend events, which will be the second year in a row.
The New York State Maple Producers Association announced on Wednesday that it is canceling this year’s event, just like last year.
“…we continue to follow last year’s joint statement from the New York State Department of Health, as well as the Department of Agriculture and Markets, saying that organizations which make food products need to be even more cautious, warning that there is a possibility of having to shut down or discard product if an infection were to occur,” the association said in a statement to its members.
Vermont too has canceled open house weekend in March.
“Our goal is to ensure that we're not creating an opportunity for further spread of the virus,” the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Associaton said.
The State of Maine however is carrying forward with its Maine Maple Sunday event scheduled for March 28.
“We’re going forward with the thing,” said Michael Bryant of Hilltop Boilers in Newfield, Maine and one of the event organizers.
Bryant said participating sugarhouses will not be having big “agro-tainment” activities on their farms but will be open for syrup sales.
“At least we got something,” Bryant said.