Despite erratic weather this winter, Maine’s maple syrup producers say the season’s sap run looks promising, and that it might yield above-average quantities for some producers.

Unusually high temperatures this winter led some maple farms to tap early, though the recent cold snap and storm activity has left producers in a holding pattern. Still, the overall outlook for the season is good, according to Maine Maple Producers Association President Lyle Merrifield.

“The season got off to a fairly early start. Some producers in the southern part of the state tapped early, and they made a little bit of syrup,” Merrifield said, noting that fresh-crop syrup should be available throughout much of the state by the end of this week. “I would say we’re very optimistic. We should have a good season.”

“Right now, it’s shaping up to be great,” said Scott Dunn of Dunn Family Maple in Buxton. “The flavor of the syrup we’ve been making has been outstanding. We’re still early in the season, but it’s about to start getting busy.”

Jason Lilley, a maple industry educator with the University of Maine cooperative extension in Falmouth, said producers in southern Maine and along the coast have enjoyed a few weeks of early runs. He said reports of sap quality from those runs have been “fairly average.”

Richard Morrill of Nash Valley Farm in Windham said he did two earlier-than-usual boils at the start of February. He said the quality was “OK,” though the sugar content seemed low, which he attributed to the whipsawing weather swings this winter.


“This week looks to be favorable,” Morrill said. “But it’s farming, just like trying to make hay: You don’t know until it’s over with how you did.”

Lilley said the drought conditions the state suffered last summer don’t seem to be impacting the sap right now. “We do not expect to see any differences in sap yield or sugar content that we would be able to correlate with last year’s drought,” he said.

Lilley said because the state has now seen several years of extended droughts, he and his team are working closely with maple producers to monitor sap quality and identify any areas where groups of trees might be showing signs of stress and decline during the growing season.

Richard Morrill stirs the sugar water as it boils down to maple syrup at Nash Valley Farm in Windham on Monday. Sofia Aldinio/ Staff Photographer

Maine Maple Producers Vice President Alan Greene said his farm tapped trees two weeks earlier than usual. They also boiled 10 days sooner than normal this year and had their ninth boil underway by Feb. 22, the date of their earliest boil ever until this year.

“Because the long-range forecast (in February) was showing a warming trend, we wanted to catch an early run,” he said. “We’re actually having a great season. Our sugar content is right in the middle where it should be, about 2 percent coming out of the tree, and the flavor has been really good.”

Greene said he’s tapped 900 trees with more still to go, and he’s already produced about 100 gallons of syrup, a full third of Greene Maple Farm’s crop in an average season.


“There’s no reason why I couldn’t be knocking on record numbers this year if all goes well,” Greene said, which would mean a return to more seasonable daily freeze-thaw cycles. He also expects last weekend’s snowstorm will extend the maple season somewhat by helping keep the ground cold, while the forecast of high temperatures in the 40s this week will allow producers to make syrup.

Finished maple syrup getting processed for the 2023 season at Nash Valley Farm in Windham on Monday. Sofia Aldinio/ Staff Photographer

“If we can have a more normal March where the temperatures aren’t spiking with 60-degree days, I think everybody stands to have a good season,” Greene said. “Whether you’re a farmer or not, you have to notice it’s been a very odd winter for weather.”

Greene said the early start this season has put his farm in good shape for the 40th annual Maine Maple Sunday weekend, March 25-26. Merrifield and Gov. Janet Mills tapped the Blaine House Maple Tree in Augusta on Monday, an annual tradition that heralds the coming maple event.

Maine is home to 520 licensed syrup producers, and the state harvests more than 575,000 gallons annually, making it the third largest producer of maple syrup in the country, according to figures from Mills’ office.

“With two or three thousand people coming to our sugar house (on Maine Maple Sunday weekend), we need some syrup,” Greene said. “Some years, we haven’t boiled until the week before, and that’s a little nerve-racking. It would be a comforting thought knowing that we’re going in to our biggest weekend well-stocked.”

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