MARSHFIELD, Vt.—The season turned around in a hurry, with big sap runs finishing out what had been a sluggish season and making it into a winner for most.
Bruce Bascom of Bascom Maple Farms in Alstead, N.H. was watching his warehouse fill up as trucks loaded with barrels were lined up in his parking lot on Friday and Saturday for the farm’s annual open house.
“I think the U.S. is up,” Bascom said. “I think the crop is up from a year ago.”
Bascom was paying $2.10 per pound for the top three table grades and $1.80 for commercial grade.
New York in particular was stand-out state, and seemed to have maybe the best crop in history.
Michael Parker of Parker Family Maple in West Chazy, N.Y. had his biggest season ever, making almost 45,000 gallons.
“We were impressed with the flavor,” Parker said on Saturday.
Another common theme to the crop was the grade—mostly light and medium.
“35,000 gallons of our 45,000 was Golden,” Parker said.
Dwayne Hill of Harpersfield, N.Y. said on April 20 that sugarmakers did very well in the Catskills region.
“I’d say with the technology that is out there today, it’s pretty hard to have a bad year,” Hill said.
Gordon Tibbitts of New Hartford, N.Y. said he had one of his best crops ever, making 1750 gallons off of 3,100 taps. The farm hit a per tap average of 6.42 pounds per tap.
“We had a good year,” Tibbitts said.
Other parts of the U.S. were also enjoying big crops.
Rich Morton of Wattsburg, Pa. had his best season ever.
“We’ve been keeping records since 2002 and it’s our best year since then,” he told The Maple News.
Morton made approximately 2,500 gallons off his 6,000 taps this year.
“We just had a lot of sap.”
In Northern Vermont, the biggest sugaring region in the U.S., the crop was off for most, but still not too bad.
“We were a little below average,” said Bucky Shelton of Glover, Vt., who had 3,800 taps out this year and made 1,440 gallons. “I think most people in our area were on par with average.”
The season came in strong in late March and early April.
“We went 21 days straight,” he said. “It was relentless.”
But overall the region didn’t enjoy the perfect conditions that other regions did.
“It was too cold for too long,” said Michael Farrell of the Forest Farmers sugarhouse in Marshfield, Vt. on Tuesday, April 30.
Sugarmaker Caleb Suddaby of Elmore, Vt. said there was less sap but higher sugar content, a common theme for the area.
“We made up in sweetness what we lacked in volume,” Suddaby said.
He said his sugar content was above 2.5 for most of the season.
In Wisconsin, the crop came in mostly on par despite the weather. The state was buried in snow all through March and well into April.
“I would say it’s average to a little above,” Peter Roth of Roth Sugar Bush in Cadott, Wisc. told the Maple News on April 23. Overall Roth said the producers in the state will come in at 4.5 to 5 pounds per tap, if they did not include the off flavored syrup.
“Guys on buckets and bags do a little less,” he said. “Some of the hobbyists didn’t do quite as good.”
Roth is one of the biggest bulk syrup buyers in the Midwest and he said the market was strong.
“I think the syrup that comes in will disappear,” he said. “I’ve been getting phone calls from other packers looking for syrup.”
Roth predicted he will be paying $2.00 per pound for the top three grades.
“We’ll be somewhere in that ballpark,” he said.
In Lower Michigan, the season wrapped up very strong.
"Our production in many places has been above last year, and an outstanding season for most," said Big Tom Stuart of Big Tom's Maple Supply in Lake Odessa, Mich.
Stuart too was raving about the sugar content.
"It was the best sugar content we've ever seen. It had been 3-3.5 percent and still is over 2 percent for most sugarbushes," he said.