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Report Shows Maple Production Up Nationally, Varies Regionally

Maple tree tapped with tubing
Pat Bradley/WAMC
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Maple tree tapped with tubing

The USDA Agricultural Statistics Service issued its report on maple syrup production this week.  It shows that nationwide production this spring was up, with trees being tapped as early as January 1st.
Overall maple syrup production was up 2 percent in 2017, totaling 4.27 million gallons.  The number of taps grew 6 percent, but the yield per tap was down 4 percent.

While Vermont maintained its status as the largest maple producer in the country, production was down slightly from 1,990,000 gallons to 1,980,000.   That yield was better than expected, according to Vermont Department of Agriculture Maple Specialist and Consumer Protection Chief Henry Marckres.  "It was down a little, about 10,000 gallons. But the thing that happened with the weather conditions we had, we were expecting maybe 50 to 75 percent of a crop. But with our added taps that people have put in and the new technology where they’re tapping earlier and high vacuum we really had a very good year for the weather conditions.”

In Vermont output per tap was down because of weather but more trees were tapped.  Marckres adds that technology helped boost syrup production.   “We did have about 600,000 more taps this year than we did the year before. So that was quite an increase.  The other thing that happens with new technology where they’ve got the small spouts with high vacuum, tapping earlier.  It used to be that we estimated a good production was about a quart of maple syrup per tap. Now people are looking for a half gallon of maple syrup per tap.  So not only has the taps gone up significantly in numbers but the production with that new technology has gone up significantly also.”

With warmer than normal temperatures this season, producers tapped the trees early.  The earliest sap flow was reported on January 1st in four states: New York, Vermont, Indiana and Ohio.

New York produced 760,000 gallons this year, 53,000 more than last year.  New York State Maple Producers’ Association Executive Director Helen Thomas says she was tapping trees on January 15th.  She says tubing and vacuum systems allow producers to get into the sugarbush earlier.  “I wouldn’t tap my trees January 15th knowing that the season could go ‘til April if I didn’t know that we were using tubing and vacuum which keeps the outside air from getting into that hole so the run lasts longer. So that’s certainly part of it.  The other part is that, especially for example this year, there was no snow cover in most of New York state in January.  I mean I was tapping in sneakers and we usually have 4 feet of snow.”

Massachusetts produced 84,000 gallons of maple syrup this year,  7,000 more than in 2016. Connecticut’s production rose 1,000 gallons to 20,000.

The Agricultural Statistics Service did not publish an average price per gallon.  Marckres reports retail prices are fairly steady, averaging between  $47 and $55 a gallon.
 

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