April 15th-April 23rd

Spring color: Red maple (Acer rubrum) is one of the first trees to flower in spring.  The trees are considered “polygamo-dioecious”, meaning that trees can have all male, all female or a mix of maple and female flowers.  The flowers appear as red or yellow and develop before leaf out in early spring.

The 2019 Vermont maple season has wrapped up for most producers.  A few operations are continuing to make quality syrup but it appears that most (if not all) syrup making will end later this week.  Reports are generally good in terms of total production and yield.  The season got a late start for many operations and for generally cold areas, production was reported to be slightly reduced.  The usual late season off-flavors (Sour sap and Buddy) have been reported in small amounts.

In Bennington County a producer reports the last boil of the season was on 3/7.  They added the following:

“My last boil was 3/7. I made slightly more than average for the season. Sap sweetness was low. Made no Golden or VDS. Some sugar makers finished 4/12. Most I have talked with had an average or above average year.”

A New Hampshire producer just over the border from Windsor County reported ending the season on 4/15.  Sap sweetness had dropped to 1.25% or less.  Amber/Rich syrup was produced as well as light (golden) colored Processing grade syrup with “sour sap” off-flavor.  The operation reported reaching 100% of the anticipated crop for 2019.  This producer added:

“Season was mostly too cold and very late. Our grade mix was 2/3 Golden & 1/3 Amber.”

A producer from ­­­­­Windsor County reports reaching 100% of the anticipated crop and ending collection on 4/13.  They added the following:

“We ended on Saturday April 13 and had an excellent season. The last 2 drums had a buddy off flavor and so we decided then to pull our lines out of the tanks. It was still running some for a few days after even with no vacuum. We made mostly Golden and Amber.”

In Rutland County a sugar maker reports the season ended on 4/12.  The operation reached 85% of the anticipated crop before finishing.  The last syrup to be produced was “very” buddy, dark syrup.  The producer goes on to add:

“Our season ended abruptly on April 12. It went from decent very dark to awful tasting very buddy syrup within hours. We just stopped as you barely could boil it and it was impossible to filter. As stated above, we made about 85% of a crop. The syrup at the beginning of the season right straight through to the first week in April was Golden to very light colored and flavored Amber. It was changing to Dark on April 6. Still very good tasting and quite light in color. Then on April 10 it changed to Very Dark and with the next boil was just done. Heard peepers on April 11. Never had it change from good Very Dark to awful buddy syrup within hours during the same boil. The sap was still clear and looked and smelled fine but was not making good syrup. There was lots of niter throughout the season but that also disappeared at the end….It never was really dark in color this year either. Maybe due to the abrupt end of season. Sugar content stayed high throughout the season. At the very end, the sap was still 1.5. Warm temperatures were definitely the biggest factor bringing the season to an abrupt end.”

In Addison County a producer with a higher elevation sugarbush and colder than average woods reported average rates of sap flow over the last week, sap sweetness around 1.5% and the last boil coming on 4/19.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors during that time.  The producer added:

“We had our last boil on April 19. It was a good season overall. Made .32 gallons per tap. We had hoped for a better per tap yield but our sugarbush is high and we had a late start. All very good tasting syrup.”

A second Addison County sugar maker reported average rates of sap flow as of 4/19 and sap sweetness around 1.5%.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with no off-flavor.  This operation reached 100% of the anticipated crop.

In Chittenden County a producer reports average sap flow and sap sweetness at or below 1.25% as of 4/19.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich color with “Buddy” off-flavor.  This operation reached an estimated 96% of a full crop before ending production.  This sugar maker added:

“We are done!!”

A second Chittenden County producer reported ending the season on 4/18.  Before stopping, sap flow rates were average and sap sweetness was around 1.5%.  Amber/Rich colored syrup with slight “Sour Sap” off-flavor was produced.  This producer added:

“Finished on 4/18 with about 10% over an average crop. Some sour sap over the weekend, but flow afterward was good up until 4/18 when taps shut down due to warm weather. Sugar content remained fairly good (1.6 Brix) up to the end. Overall a late-season with high sap sugar, moderate niter, good color. Vacuum was great all season.“

1963 sap flow chart
Hand drawn graphs showing sap pressure, sap flow and tree temperature data from Proctor Maple Research Farm (now Center) on April 8th 1962 and April 9th, 1963.  The data is from a single tree (526) that had been wired with themocouple wire, pressure gauges and outfitted with sap flow measurement instruments.  Black line-Root pressure/Temperature, Green-Stem pressure/temperature (8′ above ground), Yellow-Stem pressure/temperature (18′ above ground), Brown-Soil temperature (6″ deep), Red-Air temperature, Orange (air temperature in crown).

A Lamoille County sugar maker in a cold location reported average rates of sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness was 2.25% during that time.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  This producer reported reaching 80% of the anticipated crop as of 4/23.  They also added the following:

“We continue to make a very light Amber syrup and the sap averaged well over 2% for the week. I doubt we will be producing past Tuesday with the warm weather coming.”

In Franklin County a producer reports ending on 4/15 after reaching 95% of the anticipated 2019 crop.  Sap sweetness had dropped to 1.25% or less at the time.  Amber/Rich colored syrup with “very slight Buddy” off-flavor was reported at this location.

An Orleans County sugar maker reports very good sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness averaged about 2.25% during that time.  Syrup produced was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  This operation estimates reaching 100% of the anticipated crop as of 4/23.  This producer added the following:

“Snow finally started to melt and sap ran well all week. We are still boiling, making Dark Robust syrup now and expecting to finish this week.”

In Quebec a sugar maker southwest of Montreal reports 4/19 as being the last day of the 2019 season.  Sap flow over the past week was “Average” and sap sweetness was around 2%.  Syrup produced during the past week was reported to be Amber/Rich with “pre bud” off-flavor or what is known in Quebec “Seve”.  This operation reached 100% of the anticipated crop.


2 thoughts on “April 15th-April 23rd

  1. Hi Mark, Last boil right now in Walden. Made .33 gallon per tap which is remarkable considering the winter we had. Sugar never went below 2%, but started tasting of “bourgeon” (buddy) today. FYI, “seve” is one (of many) words for sap in Quebec French. I enjoy your blog-Ray Sent from my iPad



    1. Hi Ray,
      Thanks for commenting on the latest Bulletin. Glad to hear you were able to get some decent production in Walden. I think the sap sweetness made all the difference for folks. The term Séve is used by Centre Acer and some Quebec producers to describe the off-flavor we might consider (early bud). In the PPAQ system it is called Vr1


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