•  The Lourie family in West Rupert, Vt.—Michael, Jeff, Brett—of Mountain Valley Maple Farm are a popular stop on the Maple Open House weekend tour in Vermont, being held this weekend.

  •  Galway, N.Y. sugarmaker Clifford Nightingale is a popular stop on the Maple Open House weekend tour being held this weekend across the state. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are hosting public open house events this weekend as well.

  •  Randy and father Jim Galusha of Athol, N.Y. entertain the crowds during Maple Open House weekend being held this weekend.

  •  Jacksonville, Vt. sugarmaker Mike Stevens pours syrup samples for visitors on the Maple Open House Weekend tour on March 25. Vermont, New York, New Hampshire and Maine are all hosting events this weekend.

  •  Mike Stevens, along with daughter Paige Dix at Stevens' Sugar House in Jacksonville, Vt. during the Maple Open House weekend tour in March 25.

  •  New signs from the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association featuring the group's new logo and promoting Open House weekend in the state this weekend.

Season winding down in the middle latitudes

Throughout the Northeast, the season overall was so-so


HEBRON, Ct. — It could be close to the end for sugarmakers in the middle latitudes of the Maple Belt.

“My last boil was Thursday,” Wayne Palmer, a sugarmaker in Hebron, Ct. told The Maple News on March 24.  “The last two days we were getting that not so nice smell in the sugarhouse, when you stop getting that nice vanilla smell and it changes.”

Palmer said he maybe could’ve gone a little longer into this weekend and made commercial grades, but sugar content in the sap was dropping like a rock so he called it a year.

“I was tickled pink with the season,” he said.  

In Ohio, where many producers pulled taps in early March after a three day stretch of 70 degree temperatures, those who hung on are at or near the end.

“It looks like it’s going to be warm all week,” said Jason Grossman, of Grossman Brothers Maple in Chardon, Ohio.  

Grossman said his season has gone on for more than two months already.  

“We got in in early January,” he said.  “We’re pretty tired at this point.”

In the Northeast, many were enjoying the refrigerator effect from the two-feet or more of snow that came in mid-March.

“This last little snowstorm we got —18 to 20 inches — will keep the woods colder,” said Ron Palmer IV of Warner, N.H.  

In Central New York, sugarmakers were buried.

Jim Doyle in Poland, N.Y. said he had 31 inches from the March 13 storm.  

“That was a record all time for us,” he said.

Weather nicened up for the Maple Open House Weekend March 18-19 in New York and was perfect for big crowds.  More are expected this weekend.  Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are also having open house weekends this weekend.

Clifford Nightingale, a veteran 2,100-tap sugarmaker in Galway, N.Y. was expecting more than 1,000 visitors for the promotion event.

He was happy about the snow.  Trees in his front woods had already started to bud and the snow and cold stopped them.

“It stabilized the temperatures in the woods,” he said.

Throughout the Northeast, the season overall was so-so, according to many.

“As far the season, if you were ready and got the early runs people aren’t doing too bad,” said Phil Widrick of Widrick’s Maple in Black River, N.Y. 

Chris Rose a 600-tap sugarmaker in Shelburne, Mass. summed up what many sugarmakers have been saying about the season.

“There has been no Golden this year,” he said.  “The flavor has been outstanding.”

Back in New York, John Burkholder in Panama, N.Y. wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about how 2017 sugaring had been going.

“We’re having an okay year,” he said.  “We tapped on Feb. 8, which was probably late.”

Burkholder said he had made a little more than 500 gallons off his 3,200 drop lines as of March 20.

“It wasn’t that hot in February,” he said.  “The wind was in the wrong directions.  We didn’t have any big runs.”

A little higher up in Vermont, sugarmakers were still waiting to get rolling.

Ronnie Leroux in Wolcott Vt. said on March 17 that he’d only had one good run so far.

“But it was low sugar,” he said.  “We’ve been shut down for three weeks.  I’d say there’s about 25 percent of a crop is what most people are saying around here so far.”