Season Summaries


  •  Sugarmaker Chad Virkler checks his density during a boil on Saturday. "Last year we didn't make any syrup until April," he said.

  •  The sugarhouse at the Merck Forest & Farm Center in Rupert, Vt. which has 3,000 taps, most of which are above 2,000 feet.

  •  Sugarmaker David Mance of Shaftsbury, Vt. is hoping for a reset this week. "I havent seen anything in the woods except maybe a faint color change, to tell that the trees are starting to wake," he said.

  •  Sugarmaker David Mance of Shaftsbury, Vt. on Tuesday said the season might still have a week to go in southern Vermont.

Sugarmakers hoping for a reset this weekend

Midwest producers pulling taps; season over


SHAFTSBURY, Vt.—Southern Vermont sugarmakers were hoping for a reset this week, with temperatures rising and tree buds swelling.

"I think we have at least another week," said David Mance a 3,000 tap sugarmaker in Shaftsbury, Vt.

Mance got a late start to the season which in any other year would've been right on time.

Thinking that he was safe to book a cruise with his wife for the first week in February, he instead was sitting in Puerto Vallarta Mexico checking his phone to see perfect sugaring weather back home.

"That was painful," Mance said.

Still, he managed to get tapped pretty fast once he returned from his vacation and was boiling by Feb. 21 like most other sugarmakers in his area. 

And to date, he has made nearly a full crop, he said.

Mance was still hoping for a little more of a season, and as a licensed forester he knows that there may be still time.

"Not seeing anything in the woods to tell that the buds are starting to wake," Mance said on Tuesday.  "It doesn't have the 'smell' of spring just yet."

In New York, sugarmaker John Burkholder of Sherman Township, N.Y. was also hoping for more sugaring weather.

"It's supposed to get real cold again so I'm gonna hang in there," he said on Wednesday.  "I'm going to try and make another 100 gallons if I can."

Burkholder said his season hasn't been the greatest, with only about 400 gallons made off of 3,000 taps.

"We just haven't had any super runs yet," he said.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest, the season is done.

Irwin Gingerich in Middlefield, Ohio said on Wednesday that in his area, "nobody did well."

"Sugar content was way down," he said, saying one neighbor had some trees giving only .5 percent most of the season.

Production was also way down and syrup was filtering hard.

In Indiana it was even worse.

"We just couldn't get the right temperature," said Kevin Smith, a sugarmaker in Marshall, Ind.  

"We were way down from where we should've been," he said on Thursday.  "The trees on buckets it was not even worth putting them up.  Our trees on vacuum is the only place where we got any sap."

Smith worried that the climate in his part of central Indiana might be shifted permanently.

"Our seasons are changing," he said.  "Not sure how long we will be able to do make it down here.  The window is getting shorter and shorter."


March 2016