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Wed., Oct. 7
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Maple season is generally average


While this year’s maple syrup season was infinitely better than last year’s, 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, everybody’s smiling,” said C. Douglas Thompson, president of the St. Lawrence County Maple Producers Association. “I did OK. It wasn’t 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 family’s operation in the Soft Maple area, noting production and quality of syrup were above average.

However, Mrs. Lyndaker said, she has received a varietyof 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 year’s, 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 year’s season seemed long, there were 13 straight days in mid-March when temperatures were below freezing, said Charles A. Rutley, Rutley’s Maple Farm, Sanfordville, St. Lawrence County’s largest producer.

“There’s 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 higher 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. “That’s what sugar makers like.”

Other St. Lawrence County producers estimated their production was well below normal because of temperatures that were too low, 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 it’s still running, we’re calling it quits because the sugar content was 1 percent so we’d have to boil it a long time to make syrup.”

Jeffrey E. Jenness, Orebed Sugar Shack, DeKalb, said his season was much like Mrs. Tupper’s because strong winds in his sugarbush stopped the sap from running.

“That just killed me,” he said. “It’s Mother Nature.”

Local prices are expected to average $40 to $60 per gallon, depending on the producer.

“Realistically, it’s no different than last year,” Mr. Rutley said.

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