The 2018 sugaring season has so far been divided into two distinct seasons as illustrated by the graphs below. Producers who were partially or completely tapped in late February were able to make syrup before the big freeze up in the middle of March. Those that produce syrup in the historically coldest sections of the state saw little if any sugaring weather. As a result, operations in the far north and eastern counties are tracking behind in terms of syrup production. With what looks like good weather in the forecast and no call for excessively warm temperatures it looks like these areas will likely catch up to historical averages.
A Bennington County producer reports a “great sap run” or eight consecutive days of gathering finishing up on 3/29 after two nights in a row without a freeze. Sap started out at 2.2% and ended at 2.0% by the end of the run. Syrup produced was mix of nice Golden and Amber. As of 3/29 this operation has produced 100% of an average crop, almost 50% of that total was made in just the last week. Some producers have seen their wood supply run out on account of low sap sweetness. Snow is holding on in the woods. “All tired but happy sugar makers around here”.
Another Bennington County producer reports reaching 40% of last year’s crop as of 3/24. The sap sugar content is down a bit from the five year average (~1.6). This season the sap has been averaging between 1.3-1.4. Syrup grade has been Golden with no off-flavors detected so far.
In Windsor County a producer reports having a “super year” so far. As of 3/26 total syrup production had reached 80% of an average crop. All syrup has been Golden and Amber grade with excellent flavor. Sap flow was reported as “very fast” before the big freeze with more modest runs occurring around 3/23 and into the weekend. Sap sweetness has been “on the low side” for this operation with sap testing at 1.6 before the freeze but rising somewhat after. This producer notes that some of the rise in sugar content might be an artifact of having ice in the sap tanks at the time of measurement.
A Washington County producer reports no sap flow from early March to 3/24 and a good run of sap on 3/26. Sap has been low in sugar content and had just reached 2.0% by 3/29. Total production at this location is now 33% of an average crop. Syrup flavor has been “consistently good…although on the dark side”.
A Lamoille County sugar maker reports “an excellent season thus far-very pleased.” Syrup grade has been mostly Amber or Dark. The sap has been running very well. The weekend (3/23-3/25) produced another good run. Sap sweetness was not considered “great” and has been between 1.5-2.0. Syrup flavor has been very good and no off-flavors detected.
Another Lamoille County operation reports reaching about 35% of an average crop by 3/26. Syrup grade has been mostly Amber with the color anticipated to lighten to Golden with subsequent boils. Issues with drops falling off spouts during a recent cold spell has hampered vacuum at this location. There has been “no niter to speak of” at this location.
An Orleans County sugar maker reports that sap “started trickling in 3/22 and had enough to boil by 3/26. Sap has been testing at 2.3, which is considered average for this location. So far the total season production has reached just over 15% of an average crop. Syrup grade has been solidly Amber color (65% light transmittance) with good flavor.
A Caledonia County producer reports a few poor quality sap runs (likely just stimulated by sun) between 3/22-3/25. There was a good sap run on 3/26 (the first since the long freeze). All sap since the freeze has been between 2.0-2.2% which is close to historical averages at this location. Total production is at 20%, “which seems to be pretty average for other sugar makers in the area”.
An Essex County producer reports making only about 10% of their annual crop as of 3/26. Sap flow is reported as being “very slow”. The sap that has been collected has been sweet however, almost 3% at last check. Syrup grade has been darker than is typical for this operation but no off-flavors have been detected so far.