July 24, 2019

Maple syrup season sapped by winter Producers note one of worst years ever

MONTPELIER, Vt. – While ski resorts relished the record snowfall and cold spring, the region’s maple producers endured a season that was not so sweet.

In fact, it was one of the worst ever.

Vermont, the country’s largest maple sugar producer, produced 275,000 gallons this year – down 40 percent from last year.

“It was the second worst year on record,” said University of Vermont maple specialist Larry Myott, whose records go back to 1916. This year’s output tied with 1987, which also had a record ski season and snowfall. Vermont produced the least amount of maple syrup in 1971, with 240,000 gallons.

“We just didn’t get the freezing nights and thawing days. We just never got the good runs,” Henry Mackres, maple specialist for the Vermont Department of Agriculture, said of this season.

Deep snow and a cold spring kept the sap from flowing and kept some producers from sugaring altogether. The state produced 50 percent less than its 20-year average, Myott said.

“There was just way too much snow and not enough sap,” said Barbara Bragg of Bragg Farm Sugarbush in East Montpelier. “We had about four hours during the day for sap to run. It was pretty much the pattern.”

Still Vermont continued to lead the region and the nation in total production, according to the New England Agricultural Statistics Service.

Maine was second with 200,000 gallons, down 20 percent from last year.

“I think that at the end of the season, most were satisfied. It was only off 15 to 20 percent, a long ways from a dismal season,” said Eric Ellis, president of the Maine Maple Producers Association.

New Hampshire’s maple syrup production was down 40 percent compared to last year, said Steve Taylor, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.

“It was lousy – just terrible,” he said. The state produced 45,000 gallons this year, compared to 75,000 last year. Its five-year average yield is 73,600 gallons. “It was too cold for too long,” he said.

Producers in New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley had a fair season because temperatures were a bit warmer there, but the major syrup producers in Sullivan and Cheshire counties suffered, Taylor said.

“Everyone’s crying the blues.”

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