U.S. syrup makers had a sweet year, producing a record 3.2 million gallons.
The Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday that 2013 production jumped 70 percent over 2012, boosted by ideal weather conditions that resulted in a long season and a high-quality product. The previous record of 2.8 million gallons was set in 2011.
Vermont, as usual, was the nation’s top producer, with more than 1.3 million gallons. New York was second with 574,000 gallons, and Maine sugarhouses produced 450,000 gallons.
“I expected it to be good but not that good,” said Eric Ellis, manager of Maine Maple Products in Madison, Maine.
The syrup industry needed a good year because inventories were getting low after last year’s relatively modest production, said Jacques Couture, who with his wife owns Couture’s Maple Shop/B&B in Westfield, Vt.
“It was a terrific year,” he said. “We had the opposite of last year when we had everything go wrong with the weather. This year we had everything go right with the weather.”
Syrup production increased in all 10 states that are listed in the USDA’s production report. After Vermont, New York and Maine, the other states in order of production were Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Every year beginning in mid-February to mid-March, syrup producers collect sap from taps that are inserted into maple trees and boil it down in their sugarhouses.
The syrup industry has grown, with a steady increase in the number of taps in the past decade, said Gary Keough, of the National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Concord, N.H. This year, syrup makers used a record 10.5 million taps.
Keough thinks there’s still room for growth.
“Whenever you have an industry that keeps expanding, that’s usually a good sign they haven’t reached a point of diminishing returns yet,” he said.
The value of this year’s syrup won’t be released until next year, after the syrup is sold. But prices have been stable the past five years, and syrup makers said this year’s prices have been stable as well.
Couture, who is chairman of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, said the syrup market has been on the rise with new maple-flavored products and chefs using syrup in a growing number of recipes.
“Syrup isn’t just for pancakes anymore,” he said.
Pierce and St. Croix counties are covered with a thick blanket of snow after the big storm May 1st / 2nd. Ellsworth had 16″ of snow and the RF/plum city areas up to a foot of snow. Many branches/trees were knocked down and there were power outages - still some at 6pm today. . At my house in RF the power was out 5 hours and we had about 8 inches of snow. I had to run the john deere snow blower in order to get to work May 2nd AM. It will take a few days to melt all of the snow and then we can finish in the maple woods by fixing lines and attaching the drops to the running lines.
Bruce and Dave finished pulling the taps in the Harmon woods today. Dave hooked up about 250 drops where the lines had already drained out. The frogs are croaking in the ponds and the woodland plants are peeking up through the leaves. We are on the lookout for bears since Jim saw a 400-500 lb one yesterday not too far from the woods.
It’s over. The latest running and biggest syrup/sap season ended April 27th. We collected 61,692 gallons of sap and Pittmans Maple Syrup processed 1882.67 gallons of maple syrup with our sap. The 500 plus pails are washed and put away thanks to Bruce’s polishing brush invention. This allows us to use a cordless drill instead of hand brushing. The home woods has all taps (760) pulled and the tanks cleaned and put away. The hoses and tanks from the harmon woods patnode valley are picked up and ready to be put away. Brent, Bruce, Brandon Clare, and Kevin pulled about 800 taps today from the harmon woods. We’ll get the rest done this week and make plans for next year. Thanks to everyones help in making it a successful 2013 sugaring season.
Bruce and Jim finished detapping the home woods today. We expect to make our last pail pickup tomorrow morning and clean up the pails for the last time. We are planning on moving to bags next year. The Harmon woods will be kept on line since the sap is still flowing but at a slower rate. Hopefully we can get close to 2000 gallons of maple syrup this year from the sap we have collected and sent to the Pittmans sugar house for processing.
Jim took down 373 gallons from the home woods to Pittmans Sugar House and Bill Pittman picked up 1824 gallons from the harmon woods creek tanks. He couldn’t pick it all up and there was 400 gallons left in the tanks. The weather forecast now calls for no freezing anymore after a low of 32 degrees this morning so we are planning to start pulling the health spiles this coming weekend. Jim started in the home woods today and detapped about 175 taps. Total syrup made is now 1814 gallons. Greg Pittman is in Vermont the next few days for a maple syrup seminar. Our plan is to throw away all of the current health spiles and start with new ones next year since the current ones are 4 years old. We are also planning to redo all of the tube lines in the home woods since the current lines were installed in 1993. Another change for next year is to switch to sap bags instead of pails. With bags we don’t have to worry about rain/snow contaminating the sap and there is no cleanup time needed.
after a freeze of 24 degrees last nite the sap flow continued. 600 gallons were picked up from the pails by Doug, Dave, Jim, Brent, Quinn plus Brandon and boys. We should have about 2000 gallons of sap to pickup from the creek bottoms tomorrow. Some trees are starting to shut down as the tap holes are drying up. The pails were either empty or full. Dave found 4 drop lines disconnected from the spiles in the new tubing section. We finished picking up the pails by 6pm so brent could attend lexy’s spring choral/band concerts. total sap is up to 57,000 gallons collected which resulted in about 1750 gallons of syrup. We will start to pull out the taps this friday/saturday as the season will be ending this weekend as the temps are expected to be in the 60’s and 70’s for the first time this spring.
I picked up 2 tractor tank loads this morning and delivered to Pittman. Tank was then empty and not any sap running in. didn’t freeze last nite but its 2′oclock now and I still only have 36 degrees. That gave us about 1620 gallons of syrup. Just called Jason and he finally got down to pick up Harmons at 1′oclock. they were just about to overflow, so he said that he had the tanks empty and a big load on the truck.
thanks to Dave yesterday he got 88 gallons of precious grade b syrup bottled. so, right now we have about a tie with our all time high of syrup thanks to everyone.
report by Jim
Heavy snow is forecast for tonite 5-8 inches. Will be a good run after the storm clears on wednesday/thursday.
Lexy, Jim, Brent and Dave picked up 650 gallons of sap from the pails late today. The rain drops started falling 1/2 way through the pickup but we completed in 1.5 hours. Lexy drove the tractor, Jim was the dumpe and Brent/Dave picked up all of the pails. There is about 2500 gallons of sap in the creek bottoms to be picked up now. Jason Pittman will pickup tomorrow morning. Jim & Dave with Angie,Jodi, Trevor and Deb help bottle 88 gallons of Grade B syrup today. We now have have increased our inventories. Jim left for Al/Deb Clares for Mason Clare’s 7th birthday party from 1-4. Meanwhile dave fixed lines in the home woods - a tree had fallen and broke the elbow on the black line that goes up the draw to Meyer’s house. The sap from the harmon woods is clear but we started to see a few miller’s. There is still plenty of snow in the woods. This is the first year that Pittmans have used up all of the storage barrels since they have processed more than 10,000 gallons of maple syrup.
record low temps this morning -about 20 degrees with about 3 inches of snow on the ground. This season is now the latest we have on record. With today’s high of 40 degrees and sun we should have a sap flow today as we inch closer to the best season ever. As of today we have had the 2nd best season as far as quantity of maple syrup. No turkeys have been taken during the first 2 seasons (weeks) by Bruce and Brad due to the snow and stormy weather. It looks like the season will wrap up in May for the first time ever.
The rains have started today so the sap flow has waned. Will be slow for a day or 2 but the sap should flow after the storm passes on friday. Here’s the report from Jim.
The maple sap flow continues. Jim, Lexy - tractor driver, Dave, Bruce, Brent, Quinn and Dan H. picked up 500 gallons of pail sap. Pittmans picked up 2 tankers from the creek bottoms today. Probably about 2500 gallons for each pickup. We are closing in on 45,000 gallons of maple sap. The weather is expected to be stormy for the next 3 days but Saturday looks goods for a good sap flow. We are usually done this time of year but with snow still in the woods the sap flow is expected to continue.
We celebrated Gene Weiss’s 89th birthday yesterday. It was a rainy/icy day but the temps rose in the evening after the storm passed and the sap begin to run. It was a record pickup of pail sap of 1300 gallons from about 500 pails. At then end of the day the main pickup tanks were both full despite a loss of sap when the main drain line was froze until about 9am. 2 tanker loads or about 850 gallons were gathered from the home woods. The sap content is now averaging 2.73% with about 39,000 gallons delivered to the sap processing plant. We now have our 2nd best year but it will take quite a bit more to hit the all time record.
The sap ran at a record pace last nite and today. Jim, Lexy, Dan H., Bruce, Brent and quinn picked up 1100 gallons of pail sap. This is in addition to the home woods of 2 full tankers and the harmon tanks which were emptied at 3pm and now are probably filled up again and need to be emptied this evening.
following is a story about maple syrup in WI.
We are relieved that winter has finally come to an end in Wisconsin and one of those telltale signs of spring is the tapping of Wisconsin’s State Tree, the sugar maple.
With this annual spring tradition, the sap run is in full swing throughout Wisconsin. Now is the perfect time for all of us to indulge in pure maple syrup and savor the many benefits this liquid gold brings to Wisconsin’s $59 billion agriculture industry, the economy and health of every Wisconsinite.
To learn about the harvesting of maple syrup, I recently had the opportunity to tap the state’s first official maple tree of the season at Maple Grove School in Athens. I was joined by students, their family members and the Marathon County community to celebrate the beginning of spring. During the ceremony, a proclamation, issued by Governor Scott Walker, was read designating March 16 through April 16 as Maple Month.
Students and I drilled, or tapped, the tree just deep enough beneath the bark. The next step was to insert the spile or spout into the hole to begin the flow of sap. Each hole will give about 10 gallons of sap to be reduced down to one quart of finished syrup. The sap is collected in metal buckets and stored in storage tanks until boiled down to the exact sugar content. Sap from the tree is originally about 98% water and 2% sugar. Sap becomes sugar when it reaches four degrees above the boiling point of water (216 degrees Fahrenheit) and 67% sugar.
Wisconsin sugar makers, as they are called, are patient; most trees are at least 40 years old before they are tapped! Syrup season runs for four to six weeks. The sap runs heaviest for ten to twenty days before tree buds begin to open. Ideally, our sugar makers would like to see 40 degree weather days and freezing evenings to keep the sap flowing.
After the official tapping, I toured Sweet Nature Foods LLC just down the road to learn a bit about their maple products business. In 2010 a new state of the art processing and bottling/packaging facility was built to allow for the production of the highest quality maple specialties. This year they tapped about 3,000 trees on March 2 for their 2013 season and are using the modern equipment to help quicken the process. Their reverse osmosis machine removes half of the water in the sap much quicker than it would take to boil it down. The sap runs through shallow grooves that wind around to get as much surface area as possible to reduce the sugary liquid. In just one hour, they are able to produce 20 gallons of syrup, compared to what would typically take much longer.
I learned that maple syrup is not just for pancakes, although that is surely a favorite way to enjoy this “kiss from nature.” I tried a few different recipes with my maple syrup, one being on butternut squash. You simply cut your butternut squash in half and seed it before you add about one half tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of maple syrup into the cavity. Baste the squash with that delicious mixture every fifteen minutes. Believe me, it is delicious!
You might see a few different shades of maple syrup at the grocery store or local businesses. Lighter sap is typically from the early season of tree tapping and as the season goes on, the sap becomes a bit darker later in the season, giving it a different flavor. Pick up a pint of dark amber syrup from your local sugar maker, to add a deep richness to your baked goods and to satisfy your sweet tooth.
A large winter type storm is here today through Thursday AM. Rain, snow and high winds are expected. The sap continues to flow though - 2500 gallons from the Harmon Woods and 275 gallons from the home woods were delivered to the Pittman Sugar House today. There is already another 800 gallons in the harmon tanks as the sap continues to run despite not freezing. Based on the weather there should be a good sap run after the storm. Temps are expected to stay in the 40’s through early next week. Total sap sugar content is 2.99% overall and 696 gallons of maple syrup has been made from our sap. We could hit our goal of 1000 gallons of maple syrup with a good 3 day run.
Native American stories of Maple Syrup
Native Americans have many wonderful stories about how they began making maple syrup. The first is the legend of Glooskap. Many, many, many years ago the Creator had made life much easier for man. In fact, in those days the maple tree was filed with syrup and all man had to do was cut a hole in the maple tree and the syrup dripped out. One day the young prince Glooskap (known by other names in other tribes) came upon a village of his people that was strangely silent. There were no dogs barking, no children playing, no women minding the cook fires, and no men getting ready to go hunting! Glooskap looked and looked and finally found everyone in the nearby maple grove. They were all lying at the bases of the trees and letting the sweet syrup drip into their mouths. Even the dogs were enjoying the syrup. “Get up, you people,” Glooskap called. “There is work to be done!” But no-one moved.
Now Glooskap had special powers, and he used these powers to make a large bark container. He flew to the lake, filled the container with water and flew back to the maple grove. When he poured the water over the trees it diluted the syrup so it was no longer sweet. ”Now, get up you people! Because you have been so lazy the trees no longer hold syrup, but only sap. Now you will have to work for your syrup by boiling the sap. What’s more, the sap will soon run dry. You will only be able to make syrup in the early spring of the year!”
…The Chippewas and Ottawas of Michigan tell a similar story of the god NenawBozhoo, who cast a spell on the sugar maple tree many moons ago, turning the near pure syrup into what is now called sap. He did this because he loved his people and feared they would become indolent and destroy themselves if nature’s gifts were given too freely. This legend is unique in that, in various forms, it can be found almost universally throughout the Eastern Woodland Indian tribes. This is unusual for cultures that did not have a written history.
Despite a low of of 32 degrees the maple sap started running when the sun came out. Rain Showers started about 4pm and continued while Verna (tractor driver), Jim, Brent, Kevin and Dave picked up 300 gallons of sap from the pails. Eric Maxwell picked up a tanker (1500-1800 gallons?) from the Harmon Woods pickup tanks about 6pm. It was the first time for Verna to drive the tractor. Kevin and Dave checked lines in the Home Woods and have it running at 100% efficiency. Jim will pickup from the collection tank tomorrow - probaby 300-350 gallons. The sap to syrup ration is running at 27-1 this year. We will go over 600 gallons of syrup with these pickups - our goal is 1000 gallons. From noon to 4pm Jim, Kevin, Dave and Brent bottled 83 gallons for WW and 20 gallons for Pittmans including Dan Fischer and Jerry Drier. Brent survived a 1/2 gallon glass container that broke while filling. The syrup bottled was a beautiful medium amber color and tasted great.
The sap ran pretty good today. High temp was about 52 degrees. Jim picked up 428 gallons at 3.1% sugar from the home woods in the morning and 2 large tankers (about 2500 gallons each) were picked up from the harmon woods. one 4/3 evening and another at 3pm today. We were able to stay ahead of the best sap run of the year. Brent, Dan H, Bruce, Dave and Brad picked up 700 gallons of pail sap. Ryan M. and doug helped out for the first load and then had to leave for doug’s 62nd birthday party. There is plenty to pickup 4/5 early afternoon - there is about 1300 gallons in the harmon woods and 2-300 gallons in the home woods. Everything worked well.
After a low of 15 degrees there was a high of 40 degrees today so the sap ran in the afternoon. Jim, Brent, Quinn and Dan Larsen picked up 350 gallons of pail sap. With this addition to the 1200 gallons already in the pickup tanks we should get close to having 2000 gallons to be picked up later today or 1st thing in the morning.