The season has ended for several more operations but is still plugging away for others, mostly in the colder areas. Reports from north of the border are similarly varied. According to one report the majority of producers were between 0.5-2.0 lbs. syrup/tap with perhaps the overall average standing at 1.0lbs./tap as of 4/17. By some accounts it has been the “coldest season in a very long time”. Despite the cold temperatures, the fear of Buddy syrup is very real for producers in Quebec as many expect this off-flavor to arrive with less than ¼ of a normal crop having been produced. Sap flow has generally not been very strong for most producers over the last period. This is despite what appear to be fairly ideal temperatures for stimulating sap flow. The forecast for the week ahead looks like there will be a significant warming trend with the addition of sunny skies. This may end the season for all but the coldest operations as tap holes cease to be productive or the quality of syrup fails to have enough value to justify its continued production.
A Bennington County producer reports at least one operation still boiling as of 4/16. The operation has just surpassed last year’s total syrup production. Much of this year’s crop was lighter grade syrup. Sap sweetness appears to be close to or higher than last years. Given the forecast and sap quality being collected, this operation will likely be done by this coming weekend (4/20-4/22). Reports of buddy syrup are coming in.
A Windsor County producer reports last boiling on 4/4. Some neighboring operations have called it quits while others are holding on for a bit longer. This operation is at 1520’ elevation and will see if this week’s weather cooperates and enough quality sap is gathered to boil again. Total syrup production has reached 0.44 gal syrup/tap. This represents about 75% of the yield from 2017.
A Rutland County producer reports exceeding the expected crop by ~10% and climbing. So far the tap holes have been open for 8 weeks at this location and are still producing. Sap sugar content has dropped from 2.0% to 1.5 and some readings as low as 1.3 have been recorded. The syrup quality has been ”wonderful” including some Very Dark with “exceptional”. No off-flavors have been detected.
A Washington County producer reports reaching about 75% of last year’s crop. This operation remains hopeful for some quality sap/syrup to come. The sap ran well by mid-afternoon on 4/10. The sap sweetness continues to drop from its high of 2%. The breakdown of syrup grade so far this year has been Golden (10%), Amber (45%) and Dark (45%). This producer has observed that the retail market seems to favor the darkest syrup grades.
A Chittenden County operation reports reaching and exceeding 0.5 gal. syrup/tap as of 4/15. The additional (modest) sap flow over the past week combined with the forecasted temperatures will push that yield close to 0.6 in the next week. Syrup quality has been good. Sap sweetness overall has been average to slightly above average. Recently the sap has followed the expected downward trend, now averaging around 1.6-1.7. Over all, Nitre has been “moderate” this season with no major difficulties filtering.
A Lamoille County producer reports finishing the season on 4/6. This operation ended the season with roughly 0.4 gallons of syrup/tap. This represents approximately XX% of last year’s yield. The breakdown of syrup grade was 60% Amber, 35% Dark, 5% Very Dark at this location.
Another Lamoille County producer reports season going well despite not receiving much sap from the main woods between 4/4-4/11. This operation hauls sap from several locations and has seen varying levels of production between these woods. One property in Chittenden County has produces 2.25lbs syrup/tap. One property in Franklin County is at 2.69lbs syrup/tap. A third property (Lamoille County) has reached 4.25lbs syrup/tap. This producer reports making some of the best flavored syrup ever this season. This operation is hoping to get “a bunch more” this week and into next.
A third Lamoille County producer in a historically cold location reports getting very slow sap flows this season with almost none since 4/3. Sap sweetness has remained steady at 2%, “there just hasn’t been much of it.” This producer guesses there is another week left to the season and expects to end up with about 4lbs syrup/tap. This is not considered a “banner year” for this operation.
An Orleans County producer reports the biggest runs of the season occurring on 4/3 and 4/4. The syrup produced was Amber and Golden (69-78% LT). The weather turned cold and windy following the big run and no boiling has happened since then. The ground is still covered with snow and the trees are still locked in with no “tree wells” appearing. Sap has tested at 2.0%. This operation has reached 50% of a crop as has most of their neighbors. This operation has heard that a few sugarbushes at higher elevations have had “very poor seasons so far.”
An Essex County producer at 1500’ elevation reports not having a good run since 4/4. This operation stands at about 50% of a crop. The woods still have a fair amount of snow cover in this area.