WINDHAM — Angie and James Horler of New Gloucester and their sons, Isaac, 9, and Joshua, 6, spend every Maine Maple Sunday at the Nash Valley Farm.

Sunday was no exception. The two boys munched on puffy mounds of maple cotton candy while their parents beamed outside the sugarhouse.

“My first Maple Sunday was when I was pregnant with Isaac, and we have come here every year since,” Angie Horler said.

The Horlers said they like to visit the Nash Valley Farm, not only because it is a tradition, but they also like the low-key atmosphere. There are hardly any lines and the operation features a sumptuous array of maple sugar products.

“And the people here are real nice,” James Horler said.

Maine Maple Sunday is a major hit with thousands of people who descend on the state’s maple syrup-making operations on the fourth Sunday of March. Some operations stretch it out over the weekend. This year, 85 sugarhouses opened their doors to the public to serve pancake breakfasts, maple syrup on snow, maple-infused baked beans and other treats.

Boilers said they expect a better-than-average season in quality and yield this year despite a topsy-turvy season, which started for some operators in January, a month early because of warm weather, then slowed to a trickle during the chilly early spring.

“It’s definitely been different. A lot of the syrup was made back in January,” said Richard Morrill, who produces about 60 gallons a year at his Nash Valley Farm.

Maine is the third-largest producer of syrup of all the states. In 2016, Maine turned out 675,000 gallons. New York was second with 707,000 gallons and Vermont first at 1,990,000 gallons. But Quebec is the maple syrup capital of the world, producing 11.1 million gallons of Canada’s 12.1 million gallon output in 2016.

Maple syrup prices range from about $55 to $63 a gallon this year.

The sap runs when temperatures drop into the 20s at night and rise into the 40s during the day. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup.

Maine Maple Sunday means total indulgence for some syrup lovers. Samantha Roberts of Windham stood in line for the cash register at Nash Valley Farm with seven bags of maple cotton candy.

“I will send one bag to my mother in Oregon, but the rest are mostly mine,” said Roberts, who also planned to buy some maple whoopie pies and maple pecans.

Betsy Hart of Windham said she always looks forward to Maple Sunday.

“We come here pretty much every year. It is nearby, it is easy and prices are reasonable.” Hart said of the Nash Valley Farm.

Scott Dunn talked maple syrup production nonstop Sunday at the Dunn Family Farm in Buxton, where hundreds of people stopped by for a pancake breakfast and maple syrup demonstrations.

Dunn maintains1,500 taps and has produced 71 gallons so far this season, with no end in sight as long as the current weather pattern holds.

Dunn said he sells his product by word of mouth.

“And by the honor system on the porch,” where people can pick out what they want and leave money, Dunn said.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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