Farming Magazine - May, 2008
Northeast Maple Business
The Season in Full Swing
As I write this, in
mid-March, the sugaring season is just beginning in Vermont. Central New
York Sugar Maker Dwayne Hill reports a strong start with more than 400
gallons of fancy. Bruce Bascom in Alstead, N.H., reports about a 50 percent
crop to date in the southern reaches of the maple producing states in New
England. He noted more than 8,000 gallons from his own 57,000 taps to date,
Down in Connecticut, Ron Wenzel reports that they are
having the best season ever. In fact, they had so much sap pouring out of
the trees that they used up the firewood, house wood included. Bob White in
Underhill, Vt., reported a great start with very deep snow and very sweet
sap—all Fancy so far.
Quebec, the world’s largest sugar making entity,
hasn’t yet had any significant production.
It is reported that they have 6 feet or more of snow
in the woods and they are digging out their mainlines and sugarhouses. We
did that in Vermont several years ago; it makes for a very tiring crop. The
snow in New York, southern Vermont and New Hampshire is reported to be
anywhere from 18 inches to 3 or more feet in the woods.
The supply of maple syrup is nearly nonexistent at the
beginning of the season. From all that I’ve been able to gather in
the last few years, we have the lowest inventory of maple syrup that we
have ever had given the market demands. There is a great opportunity to
increase production. Several of our production areas have great potential.
Adopting technology is not the only answer, but it will go a long way. The
trees are there and the technology is there, now it is up to the producers
to adopt that technology and increase the number of taps.
Sugar makers with more than 50,000 taps are becoming
more common in Vermont. The syrup prices are high and still the demand is
not being met for the current markets. Several sugar makers are now making
half a gallon per tap—that is the way to increase production. Use
current technology and less backbreaking work to make your sugaring
business more profitable.
Thirty-five years ago, there were few people who
actually made their living in the maple industry. That situation is
changing rapidly. With business planning and production development, the
industry allows producers, packers and others to live the life style they
so desire. It takes a great investment in money, time and commitment.
Attending the summer tours, the winter workshops and
studying the industry is the way to expand sensibly. As I have said many
times over the years, sugaring isn’t just tradition anymore, it is
Thefts from sugarhouses
Early this winter we were hearing reports of
sugarhouses being broken into and equipment being stolen. With the price of
scrap metal at an all-time high, the sugarhouses were easy picking. If you
haven’t already done so, lock up your sugarhouse. Filter presses are
particularly attractive, as are preheaters, pans and anything copper.
I’m sure that syrups would also be attractive, but the weight might
be a deterrent.
In March, more sugarhouses were reported being broken
into. Stolen were RO membranes, filter presses and a concentrate stainless
tank from one Addison County (Vt.) sugarhouse. Another one had a tank of
sap stolen. Unfortunately, we don’t live in the safe world that we
used to. Make sure you have secured your valuables. Motion detector lights
might a good small investment. I know some producers have installed burglar
Make sure your insurance policy has your sugaring
equipment and maple syrup covered for theft. You work too hard to loose the
The author is a retired extension maple specialist who
continues to report on maple news from around the maple world.