Season Summaries

  •  The Connor family of Connor Maple in St. Albans, Vt. with Gov. Phil Scott and Sen. Peter Welch during the Governor's Tree Tapping event on the farm on Friday, March 3.

  •  Gov. Phil Scott taps the ceremonial first tree of the Vermont sugaring season at Connor Maple in St. Albans, Vt. on Friday, March 3. Sugarmakers in the state are off to a fast start to the season, with a lot of syrup made in February.

  •  Matt Branon of Branon's West View Maples in Fairfield, Vt. runs his 30-post RO system on Friday, March 3. The 90,000-tap farm is off to an early start, but was hampered by lots of wind damage in the sugarbush over the winter that slowed down tapping.

  •  Sugarmaker Dan Boudreau of West View Maple in Brodport, Vt. boils on Friday, March 3 with son, Chase Boudreau and neighbor Nate Huestis. Boudreau had his first boil on February 12 and has almost made half a crop already, his best start ever, he said.

  •  Sean Connor of Connor Maple in St. Albans, Vt. offers a tour of the pump room at the farm for Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, who was on hand to tap the ceremonial first tree of the Vermont sugaring season.

Season Update #3: Vermont and everywhere else off to fast start

Big February runs for those who caught them


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.

Sugarmakers in Franklin County, the nation’s biggest syrup production area, were dealing with severe wind damage from December that took out trees and mashed mainlines.

“We got trees down everywhere,” said Matt Branon of 90,000-tap Branon’s West View Maples in Fairfield, Vt.

Still, the farm has managed to clear most of the lines and just got tapped in this week, and has boiled “a few times already,” Branon said.

“It’s an early season so far,” he told The Maple News, during a tour on Friday.

Jason Gagne of Gagne Maple in Highgate, Vt. was also off to a fast start.

“We’ve made 60 barrels already,” he told The Maple News.

South of there, in Bridport, Vt. Dan Boudreau of West View Maple was off to his fastest start ever on his 1,000-tap operation.

“I figure by Monday I’ll be at half a crop already,” Boudreau told The Maple News on Friday. 

He was also very happy with the sugar content so far.

“We ain’t been under 2 percent yet,” he said, with most of his sap testing around 2.4.

“If I get the whole month of March to make syrup, I’ll have a bumper crop,” Boudreau said.

That was the consensus report for sugarmakers who got out ahead of an extraordinary run of sap that started in the first week of February and lasted until Feb. 22 or 23, before a cold snap shut it down. The runs started back up again this week for many.

“We’re two weeks early,” said Vernon Duesler of Mud Road Sugar House in Ephratah, N.Y. on Feb. 22, who was already on his fifth boil of the season. 

“The sugar is really good—everything we’ve brought to the sugarhouse has been two percent—and everything we’re making is super light,” Duesler told The Maple News during a tour.

Duesler, who has been making syrup since 1965, said this season reminded him of 1981.

“That was a wide open winter like this one has been and it warmed up around Valentine’s Day and we made 300 gallons before the end of February,” he said of that ’81 season.

“Then is shut down for a couple of weeks and opened back up in mid-March and sap ran all the way to the first week in April," he said. "Let's hope this year ends up like that.”

Howard Boyden of Boyden Bros. Sugarhouse in Conway, Mass. was also off to a early start.

"I feel pretty darn good about how things are going so far," Boyden told The Maple News last week. "The trees are completely thawed—it's running all the way around the tree which is not normal for February. You usualy only get it on the south and east side of the tree until March."

Sugarmaker Ken Chase, who boils off 6,000 taps in Cherry Creek, N.Y. was already at half a crop by Feb. 22.

“We’re already at 1000 gallons and we’ve never made more than 2,000 gallon,” Chase told The Maple News. “We filled six 55 gallon drums on our first boil—we went for 15 hours straight.”

"This is the earliest I have ever boiled,” said 4,300-tap sugarmaker David Yeany of yeany's Maple in Marienville, Pa. "Also the most syrup I have ever made in February. We are always tapped February 1, but rarely boil much before March."

"To date I have made 560 gallon off of 36,000 gal of sap," Yeany said. "One barrel of golden a 8 barrel of amber and the rest dark. It darkened with the warmer temp."