While this years maple syrup season was infinitely better than last years, north country producers reported varying results.
It looks overall like it will be a record-breaker in the U.S., but average or above average around here. As we compare it to last year, everybodys smiling, said C. Douglas Thompson, president of the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association. I did OK. It wasnt a gangbuster year.
Production reports from the rest of the north country were wide-ranging.
We did excellent, Nadeen R. Lyndaker, president of the Lewis County Maple Producers Association, said of her familys operation in the Soft Maple area, noting production and quality of syrup were above average.
However, Mrs. Lyndaker said, she has received a variety of opinions from producers in the association, which includes syrup-makers from Jefferson, Oswego and Oneida counties.
There was some iffy times, because it got super cold, she said.
Lewis County producers seemed to have had a fairly good year, while Jefferson County ones ranged from great to poor and Oswego County ones reported fair to good, Mrs. Lyndaker said.
Mr. Thompson said his production was double last years, when the weather provided only a small window of opportunity for sap gathering.
Depending on the location and elevation of sugarbushes, most producers are finishing up production and cleaning their equipment.
While this years season seemed long, there were 13 straight days mid-March when temperatures were below freezing, said Charles A. Rutley, Rutleys Maple Farm, Sanfordville, St. Lawrence Countys largest producer.
Theres not a day in there where the sap ran, he said. Our season was about average.
Freezing nights followed by daytime temperatures in the 40s are optimal weather for sap flowing, but there are many vagaries.
Temperatures that remain warm and force trees to bud cause off flavors, marking the end of the season.
Cold spells this year overall extended the maple season and provided breaks between sap runs, and the syrup appears to be of relatively good quality, according to Michele E. Ledoux, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.
Sap runs in St. Lawrence County might have improved with more moisture in the ground, Mr. Rutley said.
There were no mud puddles in the woods, he said. Thats what sugar makers like.
Other St. Lawrence County producers estimated their production was well below normal because of temperatures that were too frigid, forceful winds, and exposures that lacked adequate sun for sap to flow.
We did about half of what we ordinarily would do because it was cold up here, Pierrepont producer Jean M. Tupper said. Even though its still running, were calling it quits because the sugar content was 1 percent so wed have to boil it a long time to make syrup.
Jeffrey E. Jenness, Orebed Sugar Shack, DeKalb, said his season was much like Mrs. Tuppers because strong winds in his sugarbush stopped the sap from running.
That just killed me, he said. Its Mother Nature.
Local prices are expected to average $40 to $60 per gallon, depending on the producer.
Realistically, its no different than last year, Mr. Rutley said.