April 15th-April 23rd

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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.

 

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April 10th-April 14th

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As the 2019 Vermont maple season comes to an end in some areas, sugar makers are paying considerable attention to the quality of syrup produced.  The most common late season off-flavor (Buddy) does not impart an off-flavor to the sap.  It is only by smelling the steam and tasting the syrup that a producer can determine if the a batch will meet Grade A standard.

The 2019 Vermont maple season rolls on.  The past week saw some operations ending production while others were just hitting their stride.  Those that ended production reported the arrival of “Buddy” off-flavor and “Ropy” contributing to the decision.  The broad diversity of climate and topography in Vermont generally find that warmer areas to the south end production 1-2 weeks ahead of those to the north.  There are however producers in “cold pockets” in the central and southern parts of Vermont still making good quality syrup and hoping for more.  In general, producers have reported sweet sap and good syrup quality in 2019.  Those areas in colder than average woods indicate that decent rates of sap flow have been few and far between.  Frogs have already been calling the end of the season in some areas while snowshoes remain essential equipment in other woods.  The total production won’t be known until all operations have ended and the final tallies made.

In Windsor County a sugar maker reported average rates of sap flow and sap sweetness averaging 2.0%.  Syrup grade during that same period was Dark/Robust.  The majority of the syrup during this time was good flavored but a “hint of Buddy” was detected in the last drum on 4/12.  Total production has reached 100% at this location.  This producer shared the follow description of the 2019 season:

“It’s been an excellent year for us. We made a higher percentage of Golden and Amber then we usually do and all of it very high quality except for the last couple of drums which are still good. We will end up with more than last year. Today (4/13) is our last boil. We will end up making just under a half gallon of syrup per tap. (.47 gallon)”

In Addison County a producer reports average rates of flow and sap sweetness averaging 1.5% during the past week.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 100% of the expected total at this operation.

A second Addison County producer reports average rates of sap flow and sap sweetness at 2%.  “Very good flavored” Amber/Rich syrup was produced at this location over the past week.  Total production has reached 80% of expected totals at this location.  This producer also added that there was:

“Still lots of sand. Very good flavor and grade is still Amber. Sap has slowed down in the last 24 hours”

In Chittenden County, one producer reports very good sap rates of sap flow over the past week and sap sweetness averaging 2%.  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavors was produced over the past week.  Total production has reached 90% at this location.  This producer shared the following detail:

“Very nice run on 4/11-4/13, one of the best of the season. Sap still sweet ~1.8 Brix. Made great syrup.”

Another Chittenden County producer reports ending the season on 4/8 due to the appearance of “Buddy” off-flavor in syrup and “Ropy” syrup being produced.  Before the end came this sugar maker reported reaching 100% of the anticipated crop.  Additionally, this producer shared the following:

“We finished our season on Monday 4/8 due to off flavored syrup (buddy and ropey). We decided to end our season, but continued to have sugaring weather throughout the week. The sap quality seemed to improve after two nights of freezing but we did not boil again.”

A third Chittenden County operation reported very good rates of sap flow and sap sweetness averaging 1.5% during the past week.  Syrup produced at this location was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 88% of the expected total.

In Lamoille County a producer in a cold area reports very good sap flow over the past week and sap averaging 2.5% or higher during the same time.  Syrup grade was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 60% at this location and the producer added this detail on 4/13:

“Great run of sap on Thursday and Friday. About 2/3 of the crop has been Golden. Still lots of snow in the woods so I think we will have two more weeks of production.”

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April 13th, 2019:  Empty barrels wait to be filled in a section of Vermont that still requires snowshoes when working in the woods.

A sugar maker in a warmer part of Lamoille County reported “average” rates of sap flow over the past week and sap sweetness around 2% during that time.  Syrup grade was Dark/Robust with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached around 90% of anticipated yield at this location.  The sugar maker adds the following:

“Sap sweetness has fallen off to just under 2%. SW facing trees giving up. NE trees holding nicely. Just dropped to Dark Grade yesterday. Expecting next weekend to be in full clean up mode. Very happy with the season.”

In Orleans County a producer in a cold location reports “average” sap flow rates and sap sweetness at 2.5% or above.  Syrup produced during this time has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 66% percent of anticipated total as of 4/13.  This sugar maker added that there hadn’t been any “big runs” until 4/11-4/12.

In Essex County a producer reports very good rates of sap flow and sweetness averaging 2.5% or above during the past week.  Amber/Rich syrup with no off-flavors were produced during the same period.  Total production at this consistently cold location has reached 51% of the expected total.  This sugar maker added the following detail:

“It was cold for 3 days last week but the next week looks like a very good forecast. Yesterday (4/12) and today (4/13) we have our biggest boils of this year.”

A Quebec producer from southwest of Montreal reports sap flowing “Very well” over the past week.  Sap sweetness averaged 2.25% over the same period.  Syrup produced was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors.  Total production had reached 82% at the time of reporting.  This sugar maker added the following description of 2019 production:

“Hard, cold season”

 

 

April 2nd-April 9th

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Keeping an eye on production:  As the season winds down in some of the warmer locations, sugar makers are carefully checking each batch for the first hints of off-flavor.

The maple season continues to move on across Vermont.  For many producers 4/2-4/3 was the single largest run of sap to date.  Reports of above average sap sweetness continue to come in and appear to be fairly widespread geographically.  Sugar sand has been reported as a challenge for many operations which often accompanies higher rates of syrup production.  The beginning of the end has come to some of the warmer areas around Vermont.  The first hints of “Buddy” syrup are being detected.  Buddy off-flavor can appear in lighter color syrup; another reason to taste every batch before assigning the final grade.

By and large it appears that most operations (except those in very cold locations) are on track for an average to slightly above average year.  The weather in the next week will likely determine if the colder areas catch up before significant warm weather arrives and if other operations end up with well above average yields.

In Addison County a producer reported sap running “Very well” over the past week and sap sweetness averaged 2%.  Syrup produced has been good tasting Amber/Rich over the past week.  Total production has reached 67% at this location.

An Addison County producer in traditionally a colder operation also reports very good rates of sap flow and sap averaging about 2.25%.   Syrup produced during this time has been “great tasting” Amber/Rich.  Total production has reached 40% of a full crop.  This producer also mentioned lots of sugar sand.

In Rutland County, a producer reports very good sap flow and sap sweetness averaging 2% over the past week.  Syrup produced has been Dark/Robust with no off-flavor.  Total syrup production has reached 68% at this location.  The producer also added the following:

“Turned Dark quickly. Still running well. Lots of niter. Very good flavor.”

A Chittenden County producer reported “Average” sap flow over the past week.  Syrup produced was Dark/Robust with a slight buddy taste appearing towards the end of the week.  This operation is no longer making Grade A syrup.  Total season production has reached 100% of a full crop at this location.

Another Chittenden County operation reports very good rates of sap flow and sap sweetness averaging 2.25%.  Syrup grade has been Amber/Rich at this location with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 75% of a crop.

 

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A sugar maker takes a sample from the filter press:  Syrup flavor is graded after ensuring the batch meets the standard in color, clarity and density. 

A third Chittenden County producer also reports very good sap flow and sap sweetness averaging 2% over the last week.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 70% of expected total at this location.  This producer summed up the past week, and that for many others, as “Busy!”

In Lamoille County a producer in a traditionally cold area reports “Average” rates of sap flow with sap testing at or above 2.5%.  Syrup grade was Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors at this location.  Total production reached 33% of a full crop at the time of reporting.  On 4/6 this producer shared the following:

“We expect a very productive weekend. Sap is beginning to flow. Trees seem to finally have come out of the deep freeze. Syrup has tasted excellent.”

In Franklin County a producer reports sap flowing “Very well”.  Sap has averaged 2.0% sugar having started out at 2.2 at the beginning and dropping to 1.5 by the end of the week.  Syrup grade has been Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors detected.  Total production had reached 63% at the time of reporting.  This producer reports “lots of sugar sand” during the past week.

An Orleans County operation reports “Average” rates of sap flow over the past week with sap sweetness at or above 2.5%.  Syrup produced has been “tasty” Amber/Rich.  Total production was at 25% as of 4/5.  This sugar maker shared the following:

“Still ~3-4 feet of snow in our woods and no big sap runs.”

In Essex County a producer reports very good sap flow and sap averaging 2.5% or higher in sweetness.  Syrup produced during this time has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production at this far northern (cold) location has reached 25% of the anticipated crop.

 

March 23rd-April 1st

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Cold temperatures have limited sap flow in some areas.  This clear spout offers a glimpse at frozen sap waiting for warmer weather.  Producers around the state report production on track in warmer areas and behind by 1-2 weeks in colder woods. 

What a difference a week makes.  The 2019 sugaring season has been cold and slow to start but it has definitely started in all areas.  Reports are coming in that consistently reference above average sap sweetness.  If that is in fact the case its yet another reason why we all have to wait for the end of the season to see how large the crop will be.  In terms of total production, the reports range from a low of 9% to a high of around 75%.  As might be expected the lowest levels of production are coming from areas that typically see colder temperatures and later seasons in general.

A producer across the border in southern NH reported very good sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness averaged 2% during that time.  Golden/Delicate syrup was produced during the same period and so far, no off-flavors have been detected.  Season long production has reached about 66% of the anticipated crop at this location.  This sugar maker goes on to say that much of the surrounding areas in southern Vermont, New York and New Hampshire are between 60-75% of the expected total.

In Rutland County a sugar maker reports very good sap slow over the last week.  Sap sweetness has also be good, averaging 2.5% or above during that time.  Syrup produced has been a mix of Golden/Delicate and Amber/Rich (see comment below).  No off-flavors have been detected at this location.  Total production has reached 45% of the anticipated season total at this location.

“We have switched back and forth between golden and amber depending on the temperature of the sap coming in. The niter is crazy. Making sand dunes in the pans as well as getting baked on. Very white in color. Flavor of the syrup is exceptional. On Sunday, Mar 24 we saw the heaviest run we’ve seen since 1982! It was amazing and lasted into Monday. Good sugaring temps except for today. Lower 20’s to teens nights and low 40’s during the day. Today was 35 at 7am and continued up until 63 at 4pm. Some sap drizzling in.

In Addison County a sugar maker reports average sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been around 2.25% and Golden/Delicate syrup with no off-flavors was made during the same time.  Total production has reached 47% of the anticipated total for this operation.  This producer shared the following observation:

“Poplar buds are far ahead of snow conditions. Could turn buddy sooner than it looks.”

GDD april 1
Accumulated Growing Degree Days (GDD) Anomaly as of April 1st, 2019.  GDD is used as a measure of the progression of spring and is equal to the average of daily high and low temperatures, minus a base value (in this case 32).  Anomaly is the departure from long-term averages.  Most of Vermont appears to be behind its long term average GDD for the date but a few areas appear grey (No difference).  This is in contrast to many parts of the southeast US which are ahead of long-term averages.  

 

A Chittenden County producer reported average sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness was around 2% during that same time and syrup grade was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production reached 66% of an expected crop at this location.

A second Chittenden County producer reports very good sap flow over the past week.  Sap sweetness has been averaging 2.5% or above.  Syrup grade has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected to date.  Total production has reached 50% of the anticipated crop and that producer is hoping for three more weeks of production.

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The production sugarhouse at the University of Vermont, Proctor Maple Research Center has only boiled twice in 2019 but that has been enough to reach roughly 1/2 of a minimum crop.  The few number of boils have more to do with 35% concentrate and refrigerated storage than only having two days of sap flow.    

A third Chittenden County operation reports very good sap flow during the past week and sap averaging about 2.25%.  Syrup grade has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total syrup production has reached 30% at this location.

A Franklin County operation reports very good rates of sap flow during the past week.  Sap sweetness has averaged 2.25% during that period.  Syrup grade has been Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 50% of the anticipated crop at this location.  This sugar maker has been impacted by squirrel populations boosted by last year’s wide spread masting of oak, beech and other hardwoods.

One Lamoille County producer reports very good sap flow over the last week.  Sap sweetness has been 2.5% or above during that time.  Syrup grade was Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 50% of a crop at this location.  The sugar maker added the following details:

“Sweetest sap we’ve seen in years. Nice flavor. Thursday (3/28) was the best single day production ever…My small single membrane RO is a huge time and fuel saver…nice that folks are finally making these units for the smaller producer as well.”

A second Lamoille County operation in a cold location reports below average sap flow during the last week with sap sweetness being around 2.25%.  Syrup produced has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors.  Total production has reached 15% of a crop.  The producer added the following:

 “Sap flow has been way below average.  We’ve only had 7 days of sap flow all season with most days not running well.  Sap was over 3% two days this week.  Lots of snow!!”

In Orleans County a producer reports average sap flow during the past week.  Sap sweetness has averaged around 2.25% at this location.  Syrup grade has been Amber/Rich with no off-flavors detected.  Total production has reached 11% of the total anticipated at this location.  The sugar maker goes on to add:

“Soooo much snow. We spent several days digging out mainlines and then we raised our mainlines 1-2 feet.”

In Essex County a producer reported average rates of sap flow during the past week with sap sweetness around 2.25%.  Syrup produced at this location has been Dark/Robust with no off-flavor.  Total production has reached 9% of the expected total at this location.  This sugar maker shares the following that likely holds for many operations in colder areas:

“Starting a little late. Lots of snow in the woods requiring lines to be shoveled multiple times.”

2019 Vermont Maple Bulletin

The 2019 Vermont maple season began in January but widespread syrup production was delayed until the middle of March due to persistent cold temperatures and snow.

Welcome to the 2019 Edition of the Vermont Maple Bulletin.  This project is beginning its fourth year and is intended to provide a general summary of Vermont maple syrup production.  Thank you to all the producers who contribute production data.  Given all the variables in location, production technology and processing techniques it’s impossible to perform rigorous analysis on the information but it does allow for some general statewide summaries.  If you would like to contribute reports for the 2019 season feel free to contact me to learn how:  mark.isselhardt@uvm.edu

The 2019 Vermont maple season has taken its time to get started.  Many large operations around the state began tapping in early January but widespread syrup production had to wait until the middle of March.  Those operations that had trees tapped during the short periods of above freezing weather in late January and February.  Widespread syrup production didn’t get started until the middle of March.  In some colder areas of the state sap wasn’t collected until the third week of March.

The delay in sap flow caused by persistent winter temperatures doesn’t necessarily mean the crop will be significantly impacted.  As has been seen in the past, a lot of good syrup can be made in a short period of time.  How the season plays out in terms of temperature will determine the quantity and quality.

A large operation near the Vermont border in southern NH reports cold temperatures producing a “very late crop”.  Sap flow over the past week has been average.  Sap sweetness has been averaging around 2.25% and syrup grade has been Golden/Delicate with no off-flavors detected.  Total syrup production at this point has reached about 18% of the anticipated crop.

A Rutland County producer reports the first real run of sap during this week.  Flow rates have been considered “average” and sweetness “above average” at over 2.5%.  Syrup grade has been Amber turning to Golden with no off-flavors detected.  The volume of niter has been increasing and is reported to be very white in color.  Total production of syrup is about 20% at this location.

In Windsor County a producer reports average sap flow rates over the last week.  Sap sweetness averaged 2.25% during that time.  Golden syrup with no off-flavors was produced at this location.  To date, this operation has reached approximately 16% of a full crop.

An Addison County producer in a historically cold location reports average sap flow over the past week and sap sweetness was approximately 2.25% during that time.  Syrup grade was Amber with no off-flavors.  So far this operation has only just begun production and total yield is 3% of the anticipate total.  Abundant snow was also reported at this location.

 

On the bright side have been reports of sweeter than average sap although the sap seen here testing at 10% is definitely not the norm. Photo courtesy of Philip Young, Essex Middle School, Essex, VT

In Chittenden County a producer reports cold weather causing a slow or delayed start to the season.  It has been about 40 years since the season began this late at this location.  This has also meant more time to fix aspects of the tubing system resulting in high vacuum when the sap began flowing.  Sap flow rates were considered “average” over the past week with sweetness around 2.25%.  As of 3/22 total production has reached 20-25% of a crop at this location.

A producer in Essex County reports zero sap flow over the past week and only three days of sap flow as of 3/21.  Sap sweetness has been averaging 1.25% and syrup that has been produced so far this season has been Dark with no off-flavors.

 

April 5th-20th

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Taking the job into your own hands (or paws).  This red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is harvesting sugar from the underside of a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) at the begining a recent sap run.  The “sapcicle” above tells the story of how this season has gone for many of the human sugar makers in Vermont.

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.

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Pure maple syrup must meet the minimum standards in four areas of grading (Color, Clarity, Density and Flavor).  Tasting each batch of syrup will ensure that customers get the high quality product they expect and deserve.

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.

 

Bonus Bulletin (end of March-April 4th)

Capture
The first US patent for plastic maple tubing went to Nelson S. Griggs of Montpelier, VT in 1959.  Although it seems outdated by today’s standards (tubing was laid out along the ground) this innovation elevated the “time consuming drudgery which accounts for a major portion of the cost in the production of maple sugar…by reducing the tedious task of periodic tree-to-tree collection.”   

A few reports of producers ending sap collection have begun to arrive.  Operations with northerly facing aspects have remained strong with sugarbushes facing south seeing diminished sap flow.

A Massachusetts maple operation about 25 miles south of Bennington reports they are still producing syrup as of 4/4.  The sap has dropped to 1.5% but “still running good”.  All syrup has been Golden and Amber with just a small amount of Dark.  Flavor has been good until recently.  Total production has been average or slightly above average this season.

In Bennington County one producer reports being done after making “a full crop”.  Another producer reports last boiling on 3/29.  There was modest freeze the following night that only produced a “weak run” on 3/31 and 4/1.  This operation is just over an average crop in terms of syrup production.  A third producer in Bennington County reports boiling 3/31-4/2 and reaching 80% of last year’s total.  This operation taps a high elevation sugarbush and expects to be boiling “several times more”.  There have also been no reports of off-flavored syrup to date.

A Windsor County producer reports having an excellent season so far.  Total syrup production has reached 4.5lb/tap at this location.  Most the syrup has been Golden and Amber.  This producer saw good runs of sap in February and early March.  The previous five days were 3/30-4/3 have been disappointing from a sap flow perspective despite what would seem like idea sugaring weather.  The sap sweetness has also dropped from 2.0 to 1.6%.

A Washington County producer reports reaching about 50% of a crop as of 4/2.  This operation has suffered from vacuum issues, labor issues and health issues, all of which have contributed to lower than expected production.  Sap has been around 2%.  The distribution of syrup grade so far this season has been 45% Amber, 45% Dark and 10% Golden.

In Lamoille County a producer reports reaching about 60% of a crop as of 4/2.  Syrup has been mostly Amber (70%) with some Golden (30%).  The syrup flavor has been “outstanding.  Sap has remained steady at 2%.  There has been very little niter and no issues with filtering so far.

A second Lamoille County producer reports purchasing sap from a variety of locations with a range of production levels.  A property in Orleans County has had issues with low vacuum and high snow and the season production has reached 1.75lb/tap.  A property in Franklin County has also struggled with low vacuum and has reached 2.35lb/tap.  A third property (Lamoille County) has reached 3.6lbs/tap.

A third Lamoille County producer reports making a “full crop”.  Sap flow has slowed down significantly on the southwest facing trees.  Trees with northern aspect are still running.  In terms of flavor there has been some “early bud detected”.  This producer is about done for the season.

spout pic
Thermal and visual image of six different spouts.  The top two spouts are black nylon, the middle two spouts are green and white nylon (left to right) and the bottom two spouts are clear polycarbonate spouts.  The air temperature in the shade at the time the images were taken was 14F.   

An Orleans County producer reports sap running about average and steadily over the past week.  Sap has tested between 2.0-2.2% over this period.  Nice flavored Amber syrup is being produced currently.  This operation was at about 1/3rd of a crop as of 4/1.

A Caledonia County producer reports that 3/31 was the “first good run of the season”.  All syrup this season has been on the light end of Amber (70-74% LT) except for the first two runs in February.  Sap has been between 2-2.2% all season.  It has been a very “low niter year” with very little pan cleaning necessary.  As of 4/2 there was still 12018” of snow in the woods and the snow has just begun to pull away from the trees (tree wells).

An Essex County producer reports reaching about 50% of a crop as of 4/4.  A lot of snow remains on the ground and no significant warm temperatures in the forecast.  Syrup filtering at this location has not been difficult to date.