March 23, 2012

Warm weather cuts short maple-sugaring season

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Fred Mitton, of Manchester, recovers sap February 21, 2012 from a Maple tree he tapped in Hallowell. Maple-sugaring season has been cut short by the unusually warm spring weather.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Ben Fisk hammers a tap and collection tube into the trunk of a maple tree at a timber stand in Newbury, N.H. An unusually mild winter across much of the Northeast has cut short maple-surgaring season.

AP Photo

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"It's not going to be a full crop, but it's not going to be a complete bust," Hill said.

Vermont, Wisconsin, New York and Maine produce about 80 percent of the nation's maple syrup. While production is down in all four states, industry experts don't expect big price increases. Henry Marckres, a spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, said so much syrup was produced last year — nearly 2.8 million gallons nationally — that this year's drop would even things out.

"You might see the average price go up 10 percent," Marckres said. "But that won't happen for a while."

Grape predicted prices could rise faster at farmers' markets and specialty shops, which tend to be supplied by hobbyists more likely to use traditional tapping methods.

Steve Anderson, who sells equipment to maple syrup producers, thought the bad year might convince many to upgrade to vacuum systems. But even if they do, there's no guarantee of success without the right weather. Anderson usually gets 2,200 gallons of syrup with the vacuum system he has on his farm in Cumberland, Wis. This year he got 400.

"If people were relying on syrup sales to pay for a tubing system, chances are they didn't make enough money this year to pay for it," he said.


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