LIMERICK, Maine—Not much sap but lots of visitors in Maine.
It was a big bust of a maple season for most in Maine, where sugarmakers were already pulling their taps.
“Not a great season,” said Aaron Carroll of Alderwood Farm in Limerick, Maine. “It was down quite a bit.”
Carroll said he made just 50 gallons off his 750 taps and pulled his spouts on Sunday.
"It was in the 60s all week here so we’re pretty much done,” he told The Maple News.
But what Carroll and other Maine sugarmakers lacked in production they made up for in tourists, with last weekend’s Maine Maple Sunday drawing massive crowds, with visitors filling long lines just to watch sugarmakers boil.
“We’ve sold out of everything,” said Nick Storer of Limerick, who with wife, Abbie and father Mike was busy Sunday entertaining a long line of tourists waiting to buy syrup and watch the Storers boil water since they were out of sap.
“We’ve gone through 600 cones and at least 1,000 sample cups already,” Storer said.
In nearby Newfield, Maine Michael and Jen Bryant of Hilltop Boilers were frantic just ringing up the register.
“We’ve had lines like this for 28 straight days,” Bryant told The Maple News, as crowds waited to get inside a new syrup showroom at the farm.
Bryant too was disappointed with the production season, still hoping to eke out a couple more days this week.
But he said the crowds for what was his 36th Maine Maple Sunday event were the biggest ever.
Covid kept many Maine sugarhouses from carrying out their agro-tainment events or pancake breakfasts.
In East Dixfield, Maine father and son sugarmakers Rodney Hall and Caleb Hall canceled plans to host a big pancake breakfast in their brand new, sprawling sugarhouse.
But instead invited tourists with masks to come and buy syrup and a long list of confections and other products, developed by Hall's fiance Joanne Karkos.
In Brunswick, Maine George and Kate Cooke had the sugarhouse roped off but visitors could peek in and watch the evaporator boil.
Meanwhile, the season in the Upper Midwest is faring better than the Northeast.
Steve and Kathy Burgess in Duluth, Minn. have never seen their sap runs so strong in their five-years of making syrup in Minnesota.
Kathy Burgess said the over 300 gallons of syrup made in her sugar bush near Duluth in just over two weeks already exceeded by just a few gallons the most ever from her 2,500 taps for a whole season.
“It’s going well,” she said.
Her flows stopped for a couple of days when high temperatures dipped below freezing again, but with snow that was still on the ground she expected to be cooking sap until at least mid-April.
In Wisconsin, the season throughout the state was described by longtime sugar maker Peter Roth as “average at best.”
“Some guys are doing a little better. Some are a little worse,” he said.
Roth said flows were good from his 25,000 taps but the sugar content in the sap was below the 2.0 to 2.5 percent average from his woods in Cadott in the northwest part of the state.
The sugar content this year ranged from 1.3 to 1.8-percent.
Roth said the season in Wisconsin is also coming to an early end with boiling finished already in the southern part of the state.
He said there might be another week or two left in the season further to the north.
Normally, the season in some parts of the state runs until about April 20.
“We’re on our last boil here,” Roth told The Maple News on Thursday.
Back in the big Northern areas of the Northeast the season is limping.
Gary Corey of Fairfield, Vt. who boils off of 110,000 taps said he is not even at half a crop yet.
And with temperatures approaching the high 70s in some areas last week, syrup is dark.
“Everyone around here is making dark or worse,” said Dave Fuller of 25,000 tap Fuller’s Sugarhouse in Jefferson, N.H.
He was hopeful the cool down this week will help his prospects.
“We froze this morning,” Fuller told The Maple News on Monday. “The hope is the freeze will loosen all the crud in the mainlines so we can get back to lighter syrup.”