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.”
Casper wasn’t alone.
“We got three and a half feet in the woods,” said T.A. Greene of Sebago, Maine on Feb. 26. “And with layers of crust underneath. We’ve had a lot of rain with our snow.”
Greene said he wouldn’t be getting to his 1,000 taps until at least next week.
“The funny part is a year ago at this time we were boiling,” Greene said.
On Friday, March 1, at the ceremonial first tree tapping ceremony for the Massachusetts Maple Producers Associaton at Ferrindino Sugarhouse in Hampden, Mass. most producers gathered said they either hadn’t started their season or hadn’t done much.
“We’ve been frozen up tight,” said Dana Goodfield of Conway, Mass. “We got a run last weekend and had enough to sweeten the pan and make a little. I’ve made about 30 gallons, that’s it.”
Paul Sena of Worthington, Mass. said he had not finished tapping yet.
“We got 8,000 drilled and have another 2,000 to go,” Sena said on Friday. “But it’s normal for us not to start until later in March. We’re high up.”
Meanwhile, other sugarmakers have been making syrup.
Jerry Ferrindino, with son Andrew, had 247 gallons made already off their 3,000 taps.
Most of their syrup was made a week ago. The two say that their woods sit in a valley and that the trees had been running well until this week.
“It started off good but now the cold has stopped everything,” Ferrindino said on Friday at the tree tapping ceremony.
He was pleased with the sugar content so far. Mostly 2.1 percent, he said.
Down in Connecticut, sugarmakers Bob and Pat Dubos of Bats of Bedlam sugarhouse in Chaplin, Conn. were already on their sixth boil of the season during a visit from The Maple News on Monday, Feb. 25.
“I think it’s been great,” Dubos said. ‘It’s been great sap. We’re usually 1.6 percent or lower but it’s been consistently 2 percent or more so far.”
Dubos had his first boil on Feb. 11 and had made about 120 gallons so far on his 1,600 taps.
“As long as it doesn’t get warm and stay warm it could be a spectacular season,” he said.