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.
“I worry about Indiana, W.V. and Southern Ohio,” said Les Ober, maple specialist for The Ohio State University and a fellow maple producer based in Burton, Ohio.
“My Dad always said that you could make one heck of a lot of syrup in two weeks,” Ober said. “If we have until the end of March we will be ok in NE Ohio.”
Brent Tubbs of Hudson, Ind. said he’s about ready to go as well this weekend.
“I’m finishing up tapping tonight and the forecast looks promising,” he said. “Hoping for our first boil Monday or Tuesday next week.”
In Central New York, sugarmakers there made some drips and drabs this week but were bracing for a big run this weekend.
Those who have collected sap have not been happy.
“Everybody is nervous,” said Sandy Wilcox of Countryside Hardware in Deruyter, N.Y., the big Leader Evaporator dealer in the area.
“The sugar content has been horrid,” she said.
Sugarmakers in her area were reporting .6 and .8 percent sugar content.
“We had one guy tell us he was getting 1.3 and we told him he should be jumping for joy,” Wilcox said on Friday.
Meanwhile, out in the Pacific Northwest sugarmaker Neal McLeod who taps Big Leaf maples has been in the heart of his season.
“I've had a really good week,” he told The Maple News on Friday. “We’ve made 60 gallons of really light syrup.”
McLeod has about 2400 taps in the state of Washington and has developed a strong market for his syrup.
“We raised our prices and we’re still selling out really quickly,” he said.
Sugar content in his trees don't typically do better than 1 percent, he said.
“I’m hoping to make 300 gallons this season and I think we’re gonna make it.”