This season’s weather has proven to be quite dynamic. It seems like a good stretch of sugaring weather is quickly followed up by a blast of cold. This was exemplified by the weather around the 25-26th where temps statewide dropped by as much as 25 degrees in some places. Sugarmakers prepared to collect sap in February report some good to very good runs. Some have noted making more syrup than they ever have in February. But it’s the temperatures coming in March and early April will determine if this early syrup is the icing on the cake or just part of the cake itself.
In Bennington County, good runs of sap were reported from 22-25th. Sap sweetness remains decent in the 1.8-2.0 range. One producer reports boiling five times, making mostly dark syrup, low niter and with no flavor issues.
In Rutland County, one producer reports first boiling on February 21st (earliest first boil on record for that operation) as well as the 25th and 29th. Sap sweetness was ~2.2%. Sap flow on the 29th appeared to be limited somewhat by high temperatures. Syrup produced has been very light Amber and likely to rise to Golden.
Lamoille county producers report finishing up tapping. One producer is nearing 20% of a full crop while most reports are in the 10-15% range. Sap sugar content remains in the 2.0 ballpark (give or take 0.1). One report had sap testing out at 1.6. Most producers had a good run on the 25th. One large operation reports getting close to fully tapped (85%). They observed that high winds winds dramatically lessen what would otherwise be good runs.
Pockets of cold weather have persisted in some areas of the state. A producer in Starksboro (Addison County) with a ‘predominately northwest” facing sugarbush reports temperatures still too cold for sugaring.
One large Franklin County producer reports reaching 1 pound of syrup/tap as of the 29th. The production has been good in general with lower elevations cooling off enough to limit sap flow somewhat. This represents the best February start ever for that producer.
One Orleans County producer reports just average sap flow over the last five days. This producer has yet to make syrup and their sap has tested at 1.5 brix. In Morgan (also Orleans County) had a run on the 25th but the sap was not good enough quality to keep. So far that producer has yet to make syrup. They report never having never made syrup in February.
Looking ahead at the week to come it appears that southern parts of the state and historically warm sugarbushes may see the chance for some sap production but that cooler and more northern areas may miss out. There have been some forecasts to suggest, mid to late March could be warmer than average.