March 2nd-March 8th

Herb Beam
Herb Beam ‘power tapping’ trees in the sugarbush at Proctor Maple Research Center (1949).

The report last week from Bennington county includes very good sap flow, especially Monday and Tuesday night (29th-1st). Sap sweetness has remained steady for this producer at 1.8%. Dark syrup with no off flavor has been produced most recently. The 2016 yield at this operation has reached just under 60% of their 15-year average. The long range forecast does not appear especially promising with the chance for one freeze in the next two weeks.

In Windham county, a producer reports reaching about 25% of a crop by the 2nd of March. Sap sweetness has averaged 1.9 and the best run was Sunday-Monday (29th-1st). The grade of syrup has been mostly Amber with lesser amounts of Golden and Dark also produced.

In Rutland county the report is one of very slow sap flow since 2/29. This operation has not boiled since last Tuesday (3/1). The sap that has run has been 2.1-2.2% and produced very light Amber syrup with no off flavors at all. The expectation for this producer is the grade will turn to Golden with the next run. To date, this operation has reached about 25% of a crop. The warm temperatures in the forecast are not too concerning provided that they are not accompanied with lots of sun.

In what appears to be one of the colder sugarbushes in the state, a producer in Starksboro has not boiled as of 3/7 but reports that 3/8 looks very promising.

In Lamoille county, one Hyde Park producer with a cold sugarbush reports only one day of flow last week. A good run on Monday, interestingly, was not shared by the neighboring producers. Sap was between 2-2.2% and syrup produced was very light Amber (almost Golden in color). This operation is currently at just under .1 pounds/tap in total production, having sweetened the evaporator and made two barrels of syrup. A second operation in Lamoille county reports average sap flow over the past week with a sugar content of 2.0%. Syrup produced has been Golden with no off flavors. That operation’s yield has reached 0.8 pounds syrup/tap. A forecast that does not show a freeze in the next 10-14 days for this area and hoping to avoid off-flavored syrup tops the list of concerns for this producer.

In Morgan (far eastern Orleans county) a producer reports sap dribbling out on Monday the 29th but then the week was too cold for sap to run.

Sugarmakers have reported some concern about the coming 14-day forecast, with above average temperatures (combined with a lack of freezes) and how it will impact the season. While the prospect of two weeks with little or no below freezing temperatures can be worrying, it’s important to put this season in a bit of context.

early bud break
From Vermont Forest, Parks and Recreation: Forest Insect and Disease Conditions in Vermont 2012.

The 2012 sugaring season saw some record warm temperatures in March. In Burlington between March 18th-22nd the high temperatures were; 76, 79, 80, 81, and 81 respectively. That works out to a 79.4 five-day average high temperature. The result of that extremely warm weather was sugar maple flower buds were about 30 days and vegetative buds about 17 days ahead of long term averages at the Proctor Maple Research Center.  Luckily the forecast statewide isn’t calling for any temperatures approaching those numbers. While it has been a comparatively mild winter statewide, to date, there has not been enough accumulated warm temperatures trigger trees to break dormancy.




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