4/11-4/16

Xylem tissue from sugar maple (Acer saccharum) shows the relatively large vessels (appears as white circles) for conducting water during the growing season and sucrose enriched sap during the sugaring season. These vessels are small (30 to 40 μm in diameter; for reference the human eye can start to detect objects at around 40 μm in size) provide a conduit for liquid (water or sap). As average temperatures rise towards the end of the sugaring season, these vessels become plugged with gummy substances associated with microbial contamination.

Frogs are calling, flowers are blooming and the 2022 Vermont maple season has come to an end for the vast majority of producers.  Reports from across Vermont indicate that producers had an excellent year in terms of total production and syrup quality.  While some operations missed their anticipated total due to equipment issues or other factors making maintaining good vacuum a challenge, the vast majority met or exceeded their anticipated crop.  The warm weather in mid-March that had many sugar makers concerned about premature end to the season was replaced by a long stretch of cool weather that continued on for several weeks.  Most producers reported that sap sweetness had returned to more typical levels compared to 2021.  Syrup quality was reported to be very good with only a small percentage of the total crop graded as Processing.  Earlier in the season there were reports of sap being hard to process through the RO with high mineral concentration being the common explanation.  This appeared to ease for most as the season progressed.  Strong demand for pure maple syrup will likely absorb any of the “extra” syrup Vermont sugar makers produced.      

A Windham County sugar maker reported sap not running at all over the past week.  Sap sweetness was at 1.25% or less which is considered “Below average”.  Syrup produced when sap was collected was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production reached 66% of the anticipated total as of 4/15.  All syrup produced was Grade A this season.  This sugar maker added:

“I stopped boiling when it went to commercial grade . About two thirds of a crop for me sap started late this year and the sap wasn’t very sweet highest was 1.7% and dropped to 1.2% at the end of the season.”

In Sullivan County, NH a sugar maker reported that sap was not running at all over the past week.  The sap sweetness had fallen to 1.25% or less which is considered “Average” at this location.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with an unidentified off-flavor detected.  Total production has reached 105% of the anticipated total for this operation.  98% of the crop was Grade A and 2% Processing Grade.  This producer added:

“Finished with 2nd best crop we have ever had.”

In Rutland County a sugar maker reported that sap was not running at all over the past week.  Compared to long term average, sap sweetness was “Average” at this location.  Total production reached 100% of anticipated total when the season came to an end.  All syrup produced was Grade A.  This producer added:

“We have just about finished pulling taps. Have several cleaning chores left in the sugarhouse but need to finish quickly as tours continue. About 200 gals short of the low end of a full crop. Better than last year. All classifications made and all good flavor. Sales are strong.”

A Windsor County producer reported that sap was not running at all over the past week.  Sap sweetness had dropped to 1.25% or less which is considered “Average” compared to long term averages.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production reached 120% of the anticipated total.  All syrup produced was Grade A.  This sugar maker added:

“A great season! Boiled 28 times starting in the end of February. Vacuum was excellent despite all the wind storms. I would say that 85% of the crop was amber rich. Only a few drums of golden ( better than last year when we made only one) and just enough dark robust to meet our needs. AND for the first time in ages several drums of truly good tasting Very Dark/Strong. Mother nature was kind with cool days even though we didn’t get that many freezing nights. One for the records!!”

An Orange County sugar maker reports that sap was still running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% which is considered “Average” compared to the long term average at that location at this stage of the season.  Amber/Rich syrup was produced with that sap with no off-flavors detected.  This producer reports making 148% of their anticipated crop as of 4/14.  All syrup produced this season was Grade A. This producer added:

“Still going, likely to end tomorrow (4/15).”               

A different Orange County sugar maker reported that sap wasn’t running at all over the past week.  Sap sweetness had dropped to 1.25% or less which is considered “Below average”.  Syrup produced was Very Dark/Strong with Buddy off-flavor.  Total production reached 121% of the anticipated total when the season ended.  95% of the crop was Grade A and 5% Processing Grade.  This sugar maker added:

“Well above average gallons of sap per tap with below average sugar content.”

This excerpt from “Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for the Year 1873, Washington.” includes an interesting discussion between two Vermont sugar makers about the use of new evaporators versus flat pans.

In Addison County a sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% which is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 125% of the anticipated total when the season ended.  All syrup produced this season was Grade A.  This producer added:

“Strong contrast with last year—in every way.”

A second Addison County sugar maker reported that sap was running “Not at all” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.25% or less which is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced was Very Dark/Strong with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 100% of the anticipated total as of 4/15 and all syrup produced this season was Grade A. 

In Chittenden County, a sugar maker reported sap not running at all at their location.  The sap that was collected recently was 1.5% which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 98% when the season ended at this location.  All syrup produced was Grade A.  This sugar maker added:

“Finished on Wednesday (4/13).”

A second Chittenden County sugar maker reports sap not running at all over the past week.  Sap that was collected was 1.25% or less which is considered “Average” at this location for this stage of the season.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with “Buddy” off-flavor detected.  Total production reached 99% of the anticipated total this season.  Of that total, only 1% was Processing Grade while the rest was Grade A. 

In Lamoille County a sugar maker reported that sap was not running at all over the past week.  Sap sweetness had dropped to 1.5% which is considered “Average” compared to long term averages at this location and for this stage of the season.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production reached 116% when the season ended on 4/12.  All syrup was Grade A.  This sugar maker added:

“Finished boiling on Tuesday (4/12). Sap had stopped running but had a great last day. Some folks in our area are still boiling (as of 4/15).”

A Caledonia County sugar maker reported that sap was running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% which is considered “Average” for this location. Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 110% of the anticipated total as of 4/15.  All syrup produced to date at this location has been Grade A. 

In Essex County a sugar maker reports sap not running at all over the past week.  Sap that was collected was 2% which was considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with “Slight, Buddy off-flavor.” Which signaled the end of the season.  All syrup produced prior to that was Grade A.  Total production had reached 70% of the anticipated total.  This producer added:

“Season was slightly off for production due to the sugarbush being idle for three years and hundreds of bear chews. Never was able to establish high vacuum pressure in the bush.

In Quebec (south of Montréal), a sugar maker reports sap running at “Average” rates and sap sweetness was 1.5% which is considered “Average” compared to the long term average at this location for this stage of the season.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with Metabolism off-flavor detected.  Total production has reached 115% of the anticipated total.  Of that total, 98% of the syrup was graded as Grade A and 2% Processing Grade.  This sugar maker added:

“Glad it’s over.”

4/6-4/10

The 2022 Vermont sugaring season continued on 4/8 for some producers including these students in the Canaan High School Diversified Agriculture/Natural Resources program who are learning the skills, work ethic and attention to detail needed to carry the Vermont maple industry into the next century. Other operations have stopped collecting sap due to warm temperatures.

More Vermont sugar makers report the season coming to an end over the past week while others continue to make syrup. Many say the season has been very good or excellent in terms of quantity and quality.  A few did not reach 100% of the anticipated crop but all noted how much better this season was in comparison to 2021. Operations in relatively cold locations will continue to produce syrup in the coming days but the end is coming near.

A Bennington County sugar maker previously reported the season ended on 4/6.

In Rutland County a sugar maker reports the season ended on 4/8.   Sap sweetness was at “Average” levels at the end.  Total production reached 85% of the anticipated total, all of which was Grade A syrup.  This producer added the following summary of their 2022 season:

“Our season has finished. About 200 gals short of a full crop. All good syrup right to the end. Very little niter all season. Niter was very fine and hard to filter. Quite a bit of dark syrup but did make golden and amber as well. Temperatures warmed quickly during the day even if they were below freezing at night. Not a lot of sunshine which helped to preserve the sap even though temps climbed into the 50’s. Was better than last year but not great. Only had a couple of really good runs. The rest of the time sap came in steady but slow. Sugar content remained high right to the end. The last boil was Friday the 8th and sugar content was 1.5. Ran at 2% for most of the season.”

 In Windsor County a producer reports that sap was running at “Average” rates over the past week and sap sweetness was 1.5% which is also considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with this sap was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 120% of the anticipated total as of 4/10.  This sugar maker added:

“Boiling again today on April 10. Only started making dark Robust three days ago on April 6. Otherwise the crop has been 99% Amber rich. Only a few drums of gold and delicate produced. So far an amazing season that just lasts and lasts and lasts.”

A Windsor County sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% which is considered “Below average”.  Syrup produced with this sap was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 116% of the anticipated total and all produced so far was Grade A.  This sugar maker added:

“We ended the season on April 6. We may have gotten some more but the quality of the sap was low.”

Just over the border in Sullivan County, NH a sugar maker reports sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.25% or less during that time which is considered “Average” for this stage of the season compared to long term averages.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with an unspecified off-flavor detected.  Total production reached 100% of the anticipated total.  99% of the crop of Grade A at this location and only 1% graded as Processing (i.e. off-flavored or otherwise not meeting Grade A standards but still with some value).  This producer added:

“Good full crop or bigger in this region of better than normal quality. Nearly no off flavor.”

In Addison County, a sugar maker reports that sap was running at “Average” rates over the past week with sap sweetness at 1.5% during that time.  This is considered “Average” for this location at this stage of the season.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 121% of the anticipated total as of 4/9. 

A second Addison County sugar maker reported that the season had wrapped up by 4/9.  The last sap collected at this location was 1.25% or less, which is considered “Average” for this stage of the season.  Total production reached 100% of the anticipated total. 

A Chittenden County producer reports sap running at “Average” rates over the past week and sap sweetness had dropped to 1.25% or below (considered “Average” for this stage of the season).  Syrup produced with this sap was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production reached 77% of the anticipated total as of 4/9.

University of Vermont maple researchers Dr. Jim Marvin (left), Mary Greene M.S.(second from right), and Dr. Fred Laing (right) are joined at the Proctor Maple Research Farm in this undated photo (possibly 1958) by Alton Lynde (Leader Evaporator, second from left) and another unnamed person. The research farm (as it was known at the time) was just over 10 years old when this photo was taken and yet important knowledge about key drivers of maple tree sap flow and sweetness was already being gained.

A second Chittenden County sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5%, considered “Average” for this location at this stage of the season.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  This producer added:

“Sap coming in slowly. Might get a freeze Sunday night. If not, we are probably done.”

A Lamoille County sugar maker reports the season coming to an end on 4/6.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% when the season ended, which is considered “Average” for this stage.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  The season ended with total production having reached 105% of the anticipated crop.  This sugar maker added the following to summarize the 2022 season:

“All of my syrup is table grade. We started out as Dark, went up to Amber briefly, then back to Dark for the remainder of the season. The grade hardly varied throughout the season. We boiled wirh first draw on March 10 and ended on April 6. I boiled in the pans on April 7, and called it done. The final boil was still mid-Dark Grade. Flavor was still good, though starting to hint at an “early bud”. Trees still do not show buds. We had a good season, goal was 50, with final at 56.5…175 taps. all 3/16″ lines, except for 11 buckets. Both greavity and vacuum pump (5″ diaphragm Guzzler which consistently pulled 27-28″. I have to laugh…some of the large vacuum sales people scoff at these small pumps…the proofs in the results.”

A second Lamoille County sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% which is considered “Average” for this stage of the season compared to long term averages.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-favors detected.  Total production has reached 106% of the anticipated total as of 4/9.  This producer added the following:

“Sap is winding down starting Thursday. Still coming in at a rate of .75 gallons of sap per tap per day. Color turned from Amber to Dark on Friday and was just a bit more difficult to filter. Some days too much sap for the RO and tanks to handle which was the first time we intentionally dumped sap. Sap has been consistently 2% and syrup has outstanding flavor. Overall a very good year.”

In Franklin County a sugar maker reported sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was “Above average” compared to long term averages.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich.  This operation collects sap from two locations and the sap from the warmer of the two locations was reported to have “changed” as of 4/7.  This operation will divide the sap from the two locations in order to preserve syrup quality.  Total production has reached 97% of the anticipated total as of 4/9.  This sugar maker added:

“Parts of Fairfield done. Other parts still producing slightly off flavored syrup. 1 bush in Bakersfield producing slightly off flavor syrup. The rest producing table grade syrup.”

In Caledonia County a sugar maker reports sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2%, considered “Average” for this part of the season.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 90% of the anticipated total as of 4/9.  This sugar maker added:

“Still a fair amount of snow in the woods and 28° this morning 4/9, so hoping for a few more good runs. Washing everything every day (tanks, pans and RO) is not easy, but has really paid off this year.”

An Orleans County sugar maker reported that sap was running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 100% of the anticipated total as of 4/9.  This sugar maker added:

“We have had ideal conditions for sap runs on vacuum this week. Cool and damp.”

In Essex County a sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates.  Sap sweetness was 2.25% which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with an off-flavor detected.  Total production has reached 50% as of 4/10.   

In Quebec, south of Montreal a sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% during that time which is considered “Average” for this stage of the season.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 110% of the anticipated total as of 4/9.  This sugar maker added:

“A joy compared to last year.”

3/27-4/5

The snowpack remains in a Caledonia County sugarbush on 4/1. Warmer locations around the state have seen the end of sap collection. So while some sugar makers have ended the 2022 season others are still only halfway to their anticipated crop.

The 2022 Vermont maple season is approaching the final stages for many producers and crop reports have been very positive.  Operations in colder than average areas are just getting going and hoping for lots of good sugaring weather.  Sugar makers around the state saw some of the highest rates of sap flow this season over the past week.  Sap sweetness has returned to more typical levels compared to 2021.  Syrup flavor has also been reported to be good to excellent from all corners.  Many sugar makers have reported high levels of minerals in the sap which has created some difficulties in RO processing and syrup filtering.  As of 4/5 many operations have produced three quarters or more of their anticipated total crop.  Some freezing weather remains a possibility for those in colder areas whereas elsewhere, sugar makers are hoping for several days to collecting sap with vacuum remain possible before forecasted above average temperatures arrive next week.  

A Bennington County sugar maker reports the season ended on 4/6.  Over the past week the sap was running at “Average” rates.  Sap sweetness was also “Average” over that time.  Very Dark/Strong syrup with no off-flavors were produced with that sap.  Total production reached 110% of the anticipated total by the end of the season.  This producer added:

“We’re done — 4/6 was our last day. It was a good year. We averaged 26.3 gallons of sap per tap. As a comparison, last year (2021) was 20.3. The year before that (2020) was 29.5. Sap was sweeter than it has been in the past couple of years. Flavor of the syrup was excellent.”

In Rutland County a sugar maker reported that sap was running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with that sap was Dark/Robust and no off-flavors have been detected.  Total production has reached 86% as of 4/6.  This producer added:

“Production is more than last year but still won’t make a full crop. Looks like it is winding down. No freezing temps predicted in the future. Very little niter this year and all dark colored and fine.”

A sugar maker from Windsor County reports sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been 2% over that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 100% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker adds:

“very little golden delicate made. Lots of Amber Rich and very little Dark/Robust as of April 4. looking like a week and a half more?”

An Orange County sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production was at 113% of the anticipated total as of 4/4.  This producer added:

“been dealing with more manganese this year and I know filtering of the syrup this year has been tough.”

An Addison County producer reports sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with that sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 90% of the anticipated total as of 4/4.  This producer added:

“Consistently good weather, sap quality and quantity.”

Another Addison County sugar maker reported sap running at “Average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.25% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Very Dark/Strong with no off-flavors.  This producer reports reaching 100% of the anticipated crop on 4/4.  This sugar maker added:

“Finished boiling 4-4-22. Overall a good year, all the syrup made was table grade with some exceptional Very Dark Strong. It’s been three years since we’ve made that. Time for cleanup.”

In Chittenden County a sugar maker reported sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 74% of the anticipated total as of 4/4. 

A Lamoille County sugar maker reported sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% over that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 90% of the anticipated total as of 4/4.  This producer added:

“Great sap runs, Still 2% sap.  Great flavor.”

Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) are known to wound dormant sugar maple trees (Acer saccharum) for the purposes of harvesting sugar during times of xylem sap flow. Noted biologist Bernd Heinrich oberserved this behavior at 22 sites in Vermont and Maine. At one location he collected samples of the sugar encrusted wounds and concluded that each spot yielded at least 80mg of sugar. (Heinrich 1992)

In Franklin County, a sugar maker reports sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been 2% during that time which is considered “Above average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with that sap was Amber/Rich.  An off-flavor was detected “only the morning after the freeze up – nothing now”.  Total production has reached 75% of the anticipated total as of 4/4.

A Caledonia County sugar maker reports sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% over that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with that sap was Amber/Rich and no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 66% of the anticipated total as of 4/4.  This sugar maker added:

“So far, so good.”

An Orleans County producer reported tapping ended on 3/3.  Sap has been running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been 2% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with that sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 84% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker added:

“Huge sap runs this season. We are making the same grade of syrup even though the sap has a large range of sweetness and clarity.”

A sugar maker in Essex County with a cold sugarbush reported tapping ended on 3/18.  Sap was running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was averaging 2.5% or above which is considered “Average”.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 40% of the anticipated total.  This producer added:

“The sugaring season is in full-swing in the Northeast Kingdom. The first few boils saw a high concentration of nitre. Sap is clear and with the long term favorable weather pattern, should be a good season.”

In Quebec (an area SW of Montreal) a sugar maker reported sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% during that time which is considered “Average”.  Golden/Delicate syrup was made with that sap and no off-flavors have been detected.  Total production has reached 82% as of 4/4.  This sugar maker used one word to describe the 2022 so far:

“Hectic”

3/21-3/26

A sugar maker checks syrup density directly off the evaporator to ensure quality and avoid potential damage to the product during storage. All syrup hydrometers sold in Vermont must be checked for accuracy by the Weights and Measures Section of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

Many Vermont sugar makers have reached or surpassed last year’s production over the past week.  A sustained period of above freezing weather meant that only operations with vacuum continued to gather sap.  This season most producers have reported a return to more typical sap sweetness levels.  Recent warm weather has seen those values drop but the freezing temperatures that have returned in many places should not only recharge sap and produce good runs but also see sap sweetness rise somewhat. A good week of sap production should see many producers getting close to long term averages.  Reports suggest good quality syrup has been common this season as do reports of sap with high mineral content being challenging to process with RO.  While this hasn’t lasted the entire season it has been difficult at times.  Many producers have found more regular cleaning of RO membranes essential to keeping flow rates as tolerable levels.    

A sugar maker in Sullivan County, NH reported tapping ended on ¾.  Sap has been flowing “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% during that time which is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 85% of the anticipated total. 

“ We will certainly make more than 2021 by the end of this week. I predict an average crop or bigger.”

In Rutland a sugar maker reported tapping ended on 2/21.  Over the past week sap has been running at “Average” rates.  Sap sweetness has been 2% which is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors. Total production has reached 50% of the anticipated total.  This producer added: 

“Had a good week of freezing at night but with the sun out the day time temps are always a bit too high slowing the flow. This really makes you appreciate the vacuum. It’s bringing it in no matter what. Turning below average flows into average. We’re at half a crop because of it. Niter has been very light. Not too much to speak of. Usually there is a lot more by now and much harder to scrub off. Darker in color too. Only when we were making golden was the niter snow white but still there wasn’t much. No issues with RO or filtering. Nice clear 2.0 sap.

In Windsor County a sugar maker reported that tapping ended on 2/11.  Over the past week sap has been running “Very well”.  Sap sweetness averaged 2% over the past week which is considered “Average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 62% of the anticipated total for this operation.  This sugar maker added:

“Seemingly lots of niter in the syrup pan after boiling. Acid is a must!”

A sugar maker in Orange County reported tapped was completed on 2/14.  Over the past week the sap has been running “Very well”.  Sap sweetness was averaging 2% during the past week.  This is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 67% of the anticipated total.  This producer added:

“we have had great sugar content but RO has been tough. A discoloration has occurred in the view window. have been told this is from mineral deposits that need to be treated with acid before washing.”

A second Orange County sugar maker reports sap running “Very well” over the past week. Sap sugar content has dropped to 1.5% which is considered “Below average” for this location. Amber/Rich syrup was produced using this sap with no off-flavors detected. Total production has reached 70% of the anticipated total for this operation.

In Addison County, a sugar maker reported tapping ended on 3/26.  Over the past week sap has been running “Very well”.  Sap sweetness was averaging 1.5% which is considered “Average” for this operation.  Syrup produced during this time was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 65% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker added:

“Looks good” 

A second Addison County sugar maker reports tapping ended on 3/6.  Over the past week sap has been running a “Average” rates.  Sap sweetness during this time has been 1.5%; considered “Average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Very Dark/Strong with no off-flavors detected.  Total production at this location has reached 70% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker added:

“Sugar is dropping. Need a freeze to recharge. Vacuum is keeping the flow going. Sap is getting cloudy. Fair amount of sugarsand but still pressing ok.”

A Chittenden County sugar maker reported sap running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2% which is considered “Average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 61% of the anticipated total.

The University of Vermont is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of Proctor Maple Research Center. The above short film is from 1962 and features several experiments including early examples of plastic tubing including unvented Mapleflo (3M product) and vented Lamb Naturalflow. The reusable “King” sap bag is also shown.

A Lamoille County sugar maker reported tapping ended on 2/22.  Over the past week, sap has been running “Average” with sap sweetness “Above average” at 2%.  Syrup produced during this time has been Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 68% of the anticipated total.  This producer added:

“Sporadic on again, off again flow. Sap sugar has dropped and holding at 2, down from initial 2.3-2.5.”

Another Lamoille County sugar maker reported tapping ended on 3/3.  Over the past week sap was running “Very well” at this location.  Sap sweetness was averaging 2% which is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 67% at this location.  This sugar maker added:

“Great week. Very nice syrup. Problems with flow rates in RO. Expect acid wash will fix.

An Orleans County sugar maker reported tapping ended on 3/3.  Sap was reported to be running “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was averaging 2% during that time which is considered “Average” for this location.  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavors were produced with this sap.  Total production has reached 50% of the anticipated total.  This producer added:

“Big sap run the past four days. Sap runs at night and at near freezing temperatures which is unusual for our sugarbush.”

An Essex County sugar maker in a north facing, cold location reports the season just getting underway.  Tapping was completed on 2/18 at this location.  Over the past week sap has been running at “Average” rates.  Sap collected during this time was 2.5% or higher which is considered “Average” for this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 30% of the anticipated total for this location.  This producer added:

“I usually start late March and finish late April so my season has just started.”

A producer in an area SW of Montreal reported tapping ending on 2/15.  Over the past week sap has been running “Very well” and averaging 2% sugar.  This is considered “Average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with this sap was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 50% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker added this comment about sap running through the RO:

“Hard to separate at start.”

3/14-3/20

Vermont Maple Open House Weekend returned in 2022 after COVID prevented this popular event taking place. Many producers across the Vermont welcome visitors and provide excellent promotion for this signature crop while having an opportunity to sell directly to the consumer.

In Bennington County a sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 60% of the anticipated total as of 3/17.  This producer added:

“It hasn’t frozen in three nights and that warmth is supposed to continue for another 4 nights, with some highs in the 60s. Will the season come back after that? If it comes back, will the syrup still taste good? Those questions will make or break the year.”

A report from a large producer in Sullivan County, NH explained that tapping began on 1/5 and was 50% complete on 1/31.  Over the past week, sap had been flowing “very well” and sap with “above average” sweetness (2%) had been collected.  Golden/Delicate syrup with no off-flavors was being produced.  Total production had reached 60% of the anticipated crop as of 3/19.  This sugar maker added:

“predict bigger 2022 crop than last year 2021”

A Rutland County sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% during this time with is considered “average” for this location.  Golden/Delicate syrup with no off-flavors was produced with this sap.  Total production had reached 15% of the anticipated total as of 3/17.  This producer added:

“White niter is just beginning to appear. Before now there wasn’t much and it was rather dark. I think the trees have finally come out of dormancy and we are making some very nice golden. Not sure how the next few days of warm weather will affect things. Will be disappointed if we don’t get some freezing weather soon.”

In Orange County a maple producer reported sap running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2.25% with is considered “average” for this operation.  Golden/Delicate syrup was produced with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 30% of the anticipated crop as of 3/17.

A second Orange County producer reported sap running “very well” and sap sweetness at 1.5% (considered “average” for this location).  Golden/Delicate syrup with no off-flavors was being produced during this time.  Total production had reached 34% of the anticipated crop as of 3/18. 

Filling syrup drums for storage requires as much care as filling containers for retail sale. Packing correct density syrup that is at least 180 degrees F has the best chance as remaining in grade until needed for canning. Making sure the drum is perfectly clean and completely filled will prevent potential for damage from mold other issues.

A Chittenden County sugar maker reported sap running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was averaging 2.25% which is considered “average” for this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 36% of the anticipated total crop for this operation as of 3/17.   

In Franklin County, a sugar maker reports sap running “very well” over the past week with sap sweetness at 2.25% (considered “above average” sweetness for this location).  Golden/Delicate syrup with no off-flavors was produced during this time.  As of 3/17 this operation had produced 44% of the anticipated total crop of syrup.     

A Lamoille County sugar maker reported sap flowing “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2.25% over this period which is considered “above average” for this operation.  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavor was produced during this time.  Total production has reached 20% of the anticipated total as of 3/17.  This sugar maker added:

“This warm weather is brutal; dropped from Amber to Dark. 4 days in the 50s with no freeze up is NOT GOOD. Overall, sweetness has been excellent, running 2.3 – 2.5 until yesterday, back to 2.0. Last year, we never got above 1.7!”

A second Lamoille County sugar maker reported sap flowing “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was at 2%, which is considered “average” for this operation.  Amber/Rich syrup was being produced with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 26% at this location as of 3/17.  This producer added:

“Very busy week. Made lots of syrup. Great flavor but darker than usual for this time of year. Have only made 1 barrel of Golden so far.”

In Caledonia County a sugar maker reported sap running at “average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2.25% (considered “average” for this operation).  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavors was produced during this time.  Total production had reached 10% of the anticipated crop as of 3/17. 

An Orleans County sugar maker reported sap flowing at “average” rates and “average” sap sweetness (2.25%) during this time.  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavors was being made.  As of 3/18 this operation had reached 18% of the anticipated crop.  This sugar maker added:

“16″ of snow fell last weekend and then the sap started running on Tuesday. Our sap is sweet again this year so the syrup made hovers between Amber and Golden.”

2/25-3/14

Celebrating 75 years of maple research: The sugarhouse constructed soon after the 1947 founding of the Proctor Maple Research Farm (now Center). The sugarhouse was essential to fufill the PMRF’s mission of research that was rooted in basic science but also the applied issue related to the production of pure maple syrup.

The prolonged period of cold weather that followed a period of early season sap flow has eased and allowed for sugar makers in Vermont to get back to collection.  Sugar makers across the state have reported at least some sap flow but most have yet to see a significant run of sap.  A significant period of snowfall over 3/12 has added to what was a relatively small, or nonexistent, snowpack. 

A Bennington sugar maker reports tapping started on 2/1 and was 50% complete by 2/21.  This operation saw “average” rates of sap flow with sap sweetness of 2%.  This is also considered “average” for this operation at this stage in the season.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 17% of the anticipated crop.  This sugar maker added”

“The season’s always herky-jerky at the start, but this year especially so. We’ve had three runs thus far, which were all characterized by the weather soaring into the 60s (once touching 70) and then 24-48 hours later crashing down into the low teens. The temp change every time brought strong winds. The winds and temp swings have meant a lot of spouts popping out of trees. Syrup quality wise, though, things are fine and good. Weather forecast suggests a big week coming up.”

In Orange County saw average rates of sap flow last week with sap around 1.5% sugar. This is considered “average” at this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 12% of the anticipated crop so far.  This producer added the following: 

“still slow progress so far, south wind on the last warm day kept the trees from running much.”    

A second Orange County producer reports that tapping started on 12/7 and was 50% complete on 1/12.  This sugar maker saw average rates of sap flow over the past week with sap sweetness at 1.5% (considered “average” at this location).  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavors were produced with this sap. 

In Rutland County a producer saw “Average” rates of sap flow.  Sap was 1.5% which is considered “Average” at this location.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 10% of the total crop so far.  This sugar maker added:

“Weather has not been cooperative for optimal sap flow. Just gets thawed and the temps drop again. Or it gets too warm and flow slows or stops. Yesterday 3/10 was good, more like normal for this area and today 3/11 seems like a good day as well. We’ll be doing our third boil today. First boil that we will be boiling fresh sap rather than having to wait for enough over a couple of days.”

In Windsor a sugar maker reported tapping began on 2/18 and was 50% complete on 2/19.  Sap flow over the past week was “average” at this location but sap sweetness was viewed to be “below average”.  Syrup produced with the sap collected has been Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 10% of the anticipated total. 

A second Windsor County sugar maker reports tapping began on 2/1 and was 50% completed on 2/4.  Sap has been flowing at “average” rates over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% over the past week which is considered “average”.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with “metabolism” or “dirty tubing” off-flavor.  Total production has reached 15% of the anticipated crop at this location.  This producer added:

“Starting is the hardest part. Waiting for mother nature is hard.”

Research measuring tree pressure and temperature at the Proctor Maple Research Center.

A Chittenden County sugar maker who began tapping on 12/20 has yet to reach 50% complete.  The sap was running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2.25% sugar over that time, which is considered “average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 5% of total crop so far.

A second Chittenden County operation reported tapping begain on 1/17 and was 50% complete on 2/23.  Over the last week sap had been running at “average” rates.  Sap sweetness however was considered “above average” at 2% sugar.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 40% of the anticipated total as of 3/16.  This sugar maker added:

“sap flow was super flow in the start of the season. Just starting to pick up and get into a rhythm now. Had one day of making golden but quickly went back to amber.”

A Lamoille County sugar maker in a colder location reported “average” sap flow rates over the past week and sap sweetness averaging 2%.  That is considered “below average” sap sweetness at this location.  Syrup produced has been “Dark/Robust” with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 8% of the anticipated total at this location.  This sugar maker added:

“Not a lot of sap yet. Syrup has been darker than normal for this time of year but has a very nice flavor.”

In Franklin County a sugar maker reports tapping began on 12/7 and was 50% completed by 1/17.  Over the last week sap was flowing at “average” rates.  Sap sweetness was 2% which is considered “Above average” at this location.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 13% of the anticipated total crop.   

In Orleans County at sugar maker reports that tapping began on 2/16 and was 50% complete on 2/23.  Sap had been flowing at “average” rates over the past week with sweetness at 2%.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 2% at this location.  This sugar maker adds:

“No sustained periods of weather warm enough for sap to run yet.”

 In an area southwest of Montreal a producer reported tapping began on 1/10 and was 50% completed by 2/3.  Over the last week no sap had been collected.  The sap that had been collected so far this season averaged 2% sugar, which is considered “average” at this location.  Syrup produced so far has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production at this location has reached 12% of the anticipated crop.  This sugar maker added these words to describe the season so far:

“Too cold.”

2022 Vermont Maple Bulletin

Worldwide demand for pure maple syrup has risen by over 20% during the past twelve months. Several explanations have been offered for this dramatic growth including more families cooking meals at home during the pandemic and consumer demand for alternatives to processed sweeteners. The quality of syrup reaching consumers is critical for growing the maple industry and ensuring repeat sales. Maple operations of all sizes must adhere to the same set of regulations written to preserve the high value of this iconic food.

Welcome to the 7th Vermont Maple Bulletin.  The 2022 Vermont maple season is underway and after the disappointing production levels last year, many are hoping for good yields. This project would not be possible without the sugar makers who contribute the weekly production data from around Vermont.  Considering that this is the busiest time of year for maple producers, their willingness to help tell the story of how the season progresses is especially appreciated.   

In Rutland County a sugar maker reported tapping began on 2/11 and was 50% complete by 2/18. No sap flow was reported at this location the last week of February. The sap that had been collected so far was “below average” in terms of sap sweetness. Syrup that has been produced so far was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors detected. This producer added the following detail on 2/25 about how the early season has gone:

“Season progresses slowly with many days way below freezing. It is early for this area so not too concerned. Some snow cover remains which is good for keeping things cool once temps begin to rise. First boil was 2/24 from sap stored since last week in order to have enough to boil. Weather remained cloudy and cold so sap kept well.”

In Orange County a sugar maker reported getting some early tapping done starting on 12/8/21.  This operation then reached 50% complete on 1/30 and finishing up with tapping on 2/18.  As a result of this early tapping and weather that allowed for “two good sap flows”, this sugar maker has reached 10% of their anticipated crop as of So far the sap sweetness has been 1.25% or less which is considered below average for this location.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  They added the following about the sap:

“Sap seemed to have a high mineral content and was plugging the ro. Syrup boiled well with no niter but filtered hard.”

A Washington County producer reports tapping began on 1/1 and was 50% complete on 1/17.  The sap that has flowed over the past week was 1.5% which is considered “average” for this operation.  Syrup produced with this sap was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Syrup production has reached 1% of the anticipated total at this location.  The sugar maker adds:

“A couple small early runs have helped get the cobwebs out and get things in order for when the season fully starts.”

In Chittenden County a sugar maker reports tapping began on 12/20/21 and was 50% completed on 1/17/22.  The sap has been running at “Average” rates so far and the sap that has been collected has been about 1.5% sugar, which is considered “average” for this part of the season.  Syrup produced has been Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 3% of the anticipated crop as of 2/22. 

A second Chittenden County operation reports tapping began on 1/17 and was 50% completed on 1/21.  Over the past week sap flow has been “average” with sap sugar concentration running about 2% which is also considered “average” at this stage and at this location.  Syrup produced with this sap has been Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 9% of the anticipated crop so far.  This sugar maker added:

“We have needed to use a lot of DE so far to keep our filter press papers coated and working”

One Lamoille County producer whose operation is in a relatively cold pocket reports tapping began on 1/24 and was 50% complete by 2/10.  Despite good snow conditions, cold weather and lack of hired help were offered as reasons for a longer than normal tapping period.  Temperatures have been warm enough to collect just a little bit of sap and produce This operation reports sap averaging 2% sugar so far which is considered “above average”.    This producer went on to say:

“Not much sap so far.  We haven’t boiled yet but will this week (2/21).  We dumped sap until it cleared up.  Surprisingly it has tested at 2%.  Can’t wait to boil!  Going to be a great season and prices are going to be high!”

A second Lamoille County maple producer reports starting tapping on 2/21 and expecting to be done the following day.  No sap has been collected as of 2/22 at this location.  The sugar maker added the following:

“We’ve got about 170 taps…95% 3/16 tubing, a few buckets. Experimenting with a few below the lateral taps, using check-valve spouts only. Seemed to work out well last year. Changing out all of our droplines, tees and spouts after 5 years. We change spouts annually.”

A Franklin County producer reports tapping began on 1/13 and was 50% completed by 2/1.  The sap that has been collected has averaged 1.5% (ranging 1.5-1.9%, which considered “average”) and syrup produced has been Dark/Robust with no off-flavors reported.  Total production for this location has reached 3% of the anticipated total.  Like other have reported, this sugar maker stated that tapping was done in cold conditions this year.       

In Orleans County a sugar maker reports tapping began on 2/16 and was 50% complete by 2/22. No syrup has been made at this location. The maple producer further reports:

“We did not collect the sap that ran for about 24 hours on Feb 22nd – 23rd, so no information on sweetness of our sap yet.”

 In Caledonia County one sugar maker reports tapping began on 2/1 and was 50% complete by 2/16.  “No measurable flow as of yet” was the word from this relatively cold location as of 2/21. 

Maple contests are a great way to see how your syrup measures up and it’s not too early to think about entering in this summer’s events. it can also be a great way to make sure the product you are putting in the marketplace meets the minimum standards. Some sugar makers will set aside a sample from a particularly good batch from the season whereas others will enter a random sample of packaged syrup. Both approaches can benefit an operation. The first can earn producers ribbons which can be a helpful marketing element. Entering a random sample can provide an unbiased snapshot of the general quality of product even if it might not always win a Best of Class or Best of Show ribbon.

4/8-4/14

A section from a small sugar maple (acer saccharum) sapling (2″ dbh) less than one month from being tapped already displays the trees wound response mechanism. Trees devote stored energy to create chemical barriers that help prevent serious infection.

The last reports have come in for the 2021 Vermont maple season.  As with the sugar makers who have already reported the end of their season previously, these producers reported a smaller than average crop.  The reduction in yield ranged from 16% to 50%.  The biggest factors appear to have been weather (too cold then too warm) and low sap sweetness; at least 75% of producers reported “below average” or “significantly below average” sap sweetness in 2021. 
Thank you to all the sugar makers who took time during this tough season to contribute to another great year of the Vermont Maple Bulletin.   

A producer in Addison County reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week with sap sweetness at 1.25% or less.  This is considered “significantly below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production reached 50% of the anticipated crop.  This sugar maker added:

              “Lousy season”

A sugar maker in Sullivan County, New Hampshire reported no sap flow over the past week.  The sap that was collected most recently averaged 1.25% or less.  This is considered average for this location at this time.  Syrup produced with that sap was Amber/Rich with a “sour sap” taste.  Total production reached 85% of the anticipated crop.  This producer added:

              “Crop is done. Poor season due to bad weather. Too hot and began later than normal.”

In Windsor County a sugar maker reports ending the season on April 6th following a “very good week”.  Sap was flowing “very well” over that period and sap sweetness was averaging 1.5%.  This is considered “below average” for this location.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with an off-flavor.  Total production reached 95% of the anticipated total at this operation. 

In Chittenden County a producer reported no sap flow this week.  The sap that was collected last week averaged 1.25% or less, which is considered “below average” for this location.  Syrup produced most recently was Dark/Robust with “buddy” off-flavor.  Total production reached 69% of the anticipated crop at the end of the season.

A Lamoille County sugar maker reported no sap flow this week and the sap that ran most recently being 1.25% or less.  This is considered “significantly below average” for this location.  The last syrup produced was Amber/Rich with an off-flavor.  Total production reached 75% of the anticipated total at the end of the season.  This producer added:

              “Worst season since 2012. Not much sugar.”

In Franklin County a sugar maker reported no sap flow this week.  Over the last week sap sweetness averaged 1.25% at this location which is considered “below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced was Golden/Delicate with an undetermined off-flavor detected.  Total production reached 70% of the anticipated total at the end of the season.  This produced added:

              “done last weekend weather did everything in – terrible season for quantity and quality.”

A second Franklin County sugar maker reported the end of the season had come.  The last sap collected was 1.25% or less.  This is considered “significantly below average” for this location.  The syrup produced with the sap was Amber/Rich with “Bud lite with fruity notes” off-flavor.  Total production reached 60% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker added:

              “We are done, terrible year!”

An Orleans County sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow this week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5%.  This is considered “below average” for this location.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production reached 80% of the anticipated crop at this location.  This sugar maker added:

              “The snow and cold weather last weekend recharged our trees and we made nice Amber syrup at the beginning of the week. It got progressively darker as the week went on and we finished up on Saturday making a nice flavored Very Dark Strong. The story of our season was the low sugar content. If our sap had averaged 2.0 Brix, we would have had a record breaking season. Syrup was all very good flavor!”

In Caledonia County a sugar maker reported no sap flow this week.  The sap collected last week was 1.5% which is considered “significantly below average” for this location.  The syrup produced was Dark/Robust with “buddy” and “sour” off-flavors.  Total production reached 84% of the anticipated crop.  This producer added:

              “Tough season, syrup was filtering well on 4/8 but had gone buddy. It was the fastest I have seen the syrup go from table grade buddy. It happened over night.”

From Morselli et al. 1985. Warm temperatures have always been a challenge for maple producers trying to make high quality pure maple syrup, Although the emphasis on always producing light colored syrup has changed some over time, the need to reduce microbial contamination in sap remains important. Read the full report here: https://cdi.uvm.edu/book/uvmcdi-56393#page/2/mode/2up

A second Caledonia County producer reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% which is considered “below average” for this location.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with “sour sap” off-flavor appearing on 4/10.  Total production reached 67% of anticipated total at the end of the season.  This sugar maker added”

              “Sap is still running as of 4/12, but volume has diminished too much to continue boiling. Hard maple buds are still tight so still an outside chance that a freeze could bring another run. Overall, this has been a typical NEK season -mostly too cold or too warm for optimal runs. However, production has equaled .25 gal/tap which not too long ago would have been average and almost all of the syrup produced has had good or excellent flavor.”

3/29-4/7

Producers who were still collecting over the past week benefited from cooler weather or even freezing nights over the past week. Many saw the sap sweetness tick upward in addition to better rates of sap flow.  Most, but not all, operations have reported below or significantly below average levels of sap sweetness in 2021.  Off-flavors have begun to be detected as temperatures rise and sap becomes harder to keep fresh.    

A Bennington County sugar maker reports their last boil was on 3/24.  Sap wasn’t running at this location over the past week.  Sap sweetness was “above average” at this location compared to their long term average.  Total production reached 67%.  This producer added this on 4/7:

“I boiled for the last time on 3/24. We had a 3 day stretch of 70 degree days that caused the buds to swell and peepers to sing. It was a short year, I made 2/3 of my average crop. I gathered 65% of the normal amount of sap, which was sweeter than the last few years. Some higher altitude sugaring operations were able to boil until the end of March before off-flavor syrup shut them down.

A second Bennington County sugar maker reported their season ending on 4/2.  The final sap that ran was averaging 1.25% or less, which is considered “average” for this location.  The syrup produced was Very Dark/Strong with a “Buddy, Funky, unpleasant aftertaste”.  Total production reached 75% of the anticipated total for the season.  This sugar maker added:

              “Looking back on the season, we got a minor run on the first day of March, but then a cold front moved in and it didn’t get above freezing for seven straight days. We hoped to make up that lost time in April, but the weather did not cooperate. The seven-day heat wave that came on March 20 – 26, when temperatures soaring into the mid-70s, was just too much. The warmth changed something in the trees, which changed something in the sap. Last week, the syrup went off-flavor. The sap still came after that, but neither we nor the place where we sold a portion of our sap this year thought it was worth the time and effort to collect and boil it. And so we’re done.

Examining the weather from a different angle, I noted that this March, in our woods, there were 11 days when daytime highs were in the 30s or below. And there were 11 days when highs were 60 degrees or higher. That left just 10 days in the sweet spot. I hauled sap on 22 days this season. Last year, I hauled sap on 32 days in a season that started on February 24 and ended on April 2. As the days-spent-hauling number would suggest, our yield this year was off by almost a third compared to last. In 2020, our Maple Hill bush averaged 29.5 gallons per tap, this year the average was 20.6.”

In Sullivan County, NH a sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week and sap sweetness at 1.25% or less.  This is considered “below average” for this location.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich color but with a “sour sap” off-flavor.  Total production has reached 69% of the anticipated total at this location.  The producer added the following on 4/5:

              “Very poor weather. Crop is worst since 2012. Will maybe hit 75% of normal crop.”

In Windsor County a sugar maker reported sap flowing “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was “below average” for this period.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with an undetermined off-flavor.  Total production reached 95% of the anticipated total for this operation.  This producer added the following: 

            “ended season after a very good week on April 6.”

A Rutland County sugar maker reported no sap flow on 4/5.  What sap that had been collected was averaging 1.5% (considered “average” for this operation).  Syrup produced has been Very Dark/Strong with no off-flavors.  Total production was reported to have reached 65% of the anticipated total on 4/5.  This producer added the following on 4/5:

              “The cold weather has come too little too late for us. We have been making very dark for a week and it has progressively gotten stronger. The red maples are budded along with some sugar maples. We decided to call it quits on Sat. Sap was still running slowly but turned milky very quickly in the tanks. Niter was prevalent this year and never turned really really dark. With more warm weather predicted with barely freezing or not at all at night it made sense to stop. The warm weather is definitely one for the record books around here. We started pulling taps today 4/5. Maybe the earliest date we have ever started to pull.”

An Addison County sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow and sap sweetness at 1.25% or less over the past week.  Sap sweetness is considered “significantly below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 50% of the anticipated total.  On 4/6 this sugar maker added:

              “sap sweetness has been steady at 1.3%…It’s well below our average.”

A Chittenden County sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow and sap sweetness around 1.5% (which is considered “average” for this operation).  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production reached 78% of the anticipated total as of 4/1.

A second Chittenden County producer reported sap running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.25% or less during that time and that is considered “below average”.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 63% as of 4/5.

Snow clings to a red maple (acer rubrum) twig with swollen flower buds in early April. Many sugar makers in 2021 would appreciate anything to help slow the end of winter.

In Lamoille County, a sugar maker with a relatively warm location reported sap running at “average” rates over the past week and sap sweetness averaged 1.5% over that time.  That is considered “Below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced over the past week was Very Dark/Strong with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 83% of the anticipated total.  This producer added this on 4/6:

              “ Very dark year. Now at about 80+%, I’m ready to close down. The color is Very Dark, flavor typical, but nearing buddy. Time to call it. April 4 & 5 gave big runs; but now no freezing in sight. It’s over.”

A second Lamoille County sugar maker (in a relatively cold location) reported sap running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been averaging 1.25% or less, which is considered “significant;y below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced over the past week has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 66% of the anticipated total.  On 4/5 this sugar maker added”

              “Sap quality has improved in this last run and making very nice syrup although we are working very hard to get it as the sweetness averaged about 1.25%. Flavor has been very good but making mostly amber and dark which is very unusual for this operation.”

A Franklin County sugar maker reports “average” rates of sap flow over the past week and sap sweetness at 1.25% or less.  This is considered “significantly below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced over the last week was Amber/Rich color but with a slight Buddy (“Bud Light”) off-flavor.  Total production has reached 64% of the anticipated crop.  This producer reports that 4/5 was the last boil of the 2021 season.

A second Franklin County sugar maker reported sap running “very well” over the past week and sap sweetness at 1.25% or less.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich color over the past week.  On the subject of flavor the sugar maker added: “Last week had some metabolism, some sour, washed everything 2 times flushed lines all day Saturday (4/3). Bakersfield yesterday beautiful flavor – light color, Fairfield came out of a processing and went to a Very Dark/Strong.”  Total production has reached 87% of the anticipated crop.  On 4/6 this producer added:

              “Very weird season. sugar sand yesterday was a ton of it. Froze last night 4/5/2021. running strong.”

In Caledonia County a sugar maker reports “Average” rates of sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness during that time was 1.25% or less, which is “Significantly below average” for this location.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 72% at this operation.  The producer added:

              “Sap jumped to 1.5% 4/6. I don’t see the season going past Friday (4/9)”

A second Caledonia County producer reports sap running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness has averaged 2% over the same time period, which is considered “below average” for this operation.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich color with “slight metabolism on one day”.  Total production had reached 59% of the anticipated total on 4/5.  This sugar maker added on 4/5:

              “Foam has been a challenge this year, but still using organic defoamer. Tough year production wise, but kind of fun to walk in the woods without snowshoes.”

In Orleans County, a sugar maker reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness was averaging 1.5% (considered “below average” for this operation).  Syurp produced over the past week was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 49% of the anticipated total as of 4/5.  This sugar maker added on 4/5:

              “Some big sap runs this week, but sugar content remains low.”

An Essex County sugar maker reports sap flowing “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.5% (which is considered “below average”).  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 66% of the anticipated total.  This sugar maker added on 4/5:

              “making darker than usual syrup. sweetness went up this week. started at 1.2 and now is 1.7”

In Quebec (SW of Montreal) a sugar maker reports sap running “very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 1.25% or less during that time which is considered “below average” for this location.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Season long production has reached 66% as of 4/1 and the producer added the following comment about the season:

              “weird

3/25-3/29

Sample jars serve an important function to the sugar maker. They allow batches of syrup to be graded for color and clarity and when added to each days production they serve as a record for season long production. After the season, samples can be tested instead of opening entire barrels when packing syrup for retail or selling to syrup buyers. Remember to fill sample jars completely to avoid darkening (also known as layering) of syrup.

A quick update from Vermont Maple Bulletin. Below is the compiled responses from producers around Vermont and a few from outside the State. These responses came in either 3/27 or 3/28. Production totals have reached 25-75% of the anticipated crop. 8 out of 12 producers reported “Below Average” or “Significantly Below Average” sap sweetness. A few reports of off-flavor syrup have come in but are far from widespread.

Location (county) This week sap has been running…Over the last week, my sap sweetness has averaged…Compared to the long term average at my location, sap sweetness this year has been…Over the last week the syrup produced at my location has been…Have you detected any off-flavors in the syrup produced in the past week?How close to your anticipated total production have you made so far?Any other comments about how your season is progressing?
AddisonAverage1.5Significantly below averageDarkNo25Low sap content. Seems like the season could end early with low syrup yields but we’ll see. Weather has been too warm with no freeze/thaw cycles.
CaledoniaAverage1.25 or lessSignificantly below averageDarkA little bit of fermented flavor on 3/25, sap was coming into the RO AT 65F31Syrup filtering very well even though sap has been green and cloudy. Saw first sugar sand 3/26.
Quebec (SW of Montreal)Average1.5AverageAmberNo33
OrleansAverageBelow averageDarkNo35Sap has been averaging 1.75 Brix which is lower than normal for our bush and our syrup has been primarily Dark Robust. Too warm and dry with no freezes so we are not getting good sap runs.
LamoilleAverage2Below averageAmberNo35Hope we make it through the warm spell.  All syrup has been either amber or dark.  We normally have made 1/3 to 1/2 of our crop in golden.  Sap ran slow but steady during the warm days and night.  
ChittendenAverage2AverageDarkNo40
FranklinVery well1.5Below averageGoldenOn 3/26/21 noticed a little fermented smell, flavor ok40Looking like a short season 
Sullivan County, NHVery well1.5AverageAmberNo50No freeze for last 5 nights
FranklinVery well1.5Below averageAmberFriday we had some metabolism52Ran real good on the Mountain Thursday- snow melt may have helped contribute to that. Was dryer in Fairfield. Caught the sap Thursday night but what came in overnight and was boiled on Friday sap changed and had metabolism
LamoilleAverage1.5Below averageDarkNo62Dark season. Last 2 boilings were Very Dark grade and typical strong flavor. This warm weather is not good.  buds are becoming. Too pronounced. All syrup has been Dark or Very Dark. 
RutlandAverage1.5AverageDarkNo65It is a struggle with warm temperatures continuing all week. Boiling with wood has sapped every last bit of strength from us. Opening those doors when it is 65 to 70 degrees outside is like standing in front of a blast furnace. Awful to say the least. We remain optimistic that next week will bring cooler temps and some semblance of normalcy to this season. 
ChittendenAverage1.5DarkNo68
WindsorAverage1.5Below averageDarkNo75
When the USDA published “Production of Maple Sirup and Sugar (Farmers Bulletin No 1366) in 1923 iron kettles were still in use (although it was recognized that this method rarely produced a quality product).
USDA published “Production of Maple Sirup and Sugar (Farmers Bulletin No 1366) in 1923 and so called “patent evaporators” (iron arch with adjustable draft) were the most efficient equipment of the day.

Cold and snow has momentarily paused the 2021 maple season for those sugar makers still collecting sap. It will be anyone’s guess how much longer the season will last when sap begins to flow again.