by Andrew Martin
The 2013 sugaring season finally appears to be over, but people are still talking about it even though the sap has stopped running. That’s because the 2013 season was one of the best in recent memory, as the season was not only long, but the syrup being produced was also of very high quality. After what was a down season for many sugarmakers in 2012 the strong season this year came as something of a relief.
“I think nearly everyone would say it was a good year,” stated UVM Maple Specialist George Cook, “Mother Nature was good to us and it stayed cool, keeping the quality high.” The success of the year can be seen in Cook’s own small operation in Hyde Park, which normally only produces 25-30 gallons of syrup per year. This year Cook made 52 gallons.
“It’s been a good year,” commented Butternut Mountain Farms owner David Marvin, who also owns his own large sugarbush, “The quality was very good this year… all grades had good quality this year and the flavor was remarkably good.”
According to Marvin his own operation of nearly 15,000 taps wrapped up on Thursday, April 25. Like many operations around Lamoille County Marvin saw a large amount of light, very flavorful syrup being produced over the course of the season. The success of his own operation was mirrored by those bringing syrup to Butternut Mountain Farms.
“Nearly all the producers were happy with their season,” he stated. He also explained that some sugarmakers, especially those in colder spots around Lamoille County, were worried during the early season when a severe cold snap put a halt to what had been a quick season at the time. However, those fears were put to rest when the slightly warmer weather returned and the ideal sugaring conditions continued on into mid-April.
“I think this could be the biggest crop since World War II,” stated Marvin, “It may even exceed 2011.” He went on to explain that along with it being a good year for sugaring, the recent increase in the amount sugarmakers are investing in their operations also helped the higher yields seen this year. He also explained that despite the large amounts of syrup produced in Vermont he doesn’t believe the prices for syrup will move downward at all since they are established in Quebec, not here in Vermont.
“It’s been a good year for producers and consumers,” finished Marvin.
The success of Marvin’s large operation was mirrored by others around Lamoille County. Ken Desroches of Cambridge, who put out roughly 1,000 taps this year, had an extremely successful year as well. Ken broke down his operation on April 20, but that still meant that he had a season that lasted two months and eight days.
“That’s the longest season I’ve ever had,” stated Desroches.
The addition of extra taps this year and the lengthy season saw Desroches can 116 gallons of syrup this season, a total that is up from the 80 he normally shoots for. That total would have been higher but for a sap spill that he estimates cost him about 10 gallons of syrup. The large amount of syrup that Desroches produced was also extremely light and tasty.
“We were producing light syrup right up to end,” explained Desroches, “Our last boil produced eight gallons of the only B we made. We didn’t make any commercial this year and everything we did make had very good flavor.”
Desroches also serves as the representative for the Lamoille County Maple Sugarmakers Association and distributes the gallon jugs to other producers, and he reiterated that nearly everyone he talked to had good years as well.
“From what I have gathered everyone else had a super season as well… everyone had long seasons that saw high quality light syrup being produced,” he explained, “We can’t ask for more than that as sugarmakers.”
Paul Percy, of Stowe, echoed these thoughts with regards to his own operation. Percy has a 16,000 tap sugarbush and he began boiling on March 10 and continued right up until April 23, allowing him to produce what he felt was a full crop for his sugarbush. According to Percy, this year he more than doubled the amount of syrup he produced in 2012.
“It was one of my better years out of the last 10,” stated Percy.
Along with 2013 being a plentiful season for Percy, he also felt the syrup this year was of very high quality. He only began making B near the end of the season and none of the syrup he made was “buddy” despite the late date of his last boil.
“It’s all been good syrup, light with a very good flavor,” continued Percy, “It was a good season.”
Selina Rooney, who has a sugarbush in Morristown Corners, feels the same about the 2013 sugaring season.
“It was an awesome season,” stated Rooney, who went on to explain that the April 22 date of their final boil was the latest in quite a few years. The Rooneys made around 565 gallons, which is more than the 500 gallon goal they have for each year. Like other sugarmakers they too made a great deal of Fancy syrup.
“Overall the 2013 crop will probably be recognized as one of the best that we have had in several decades,” George Cook stated to sum up the year, “This crop will likely rival or pass the crop from two years ago, and that was the largest crop since the 1940s.”