Sugarmakers Predict Good Season

03/29/10 7:34AM By Nina Keck
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VPR Photo/N. Keck

(Host) Maple syrup production last year was up 22 percent nationwide. And Vermont led the country producing 920,000 gallons of syrup. That's a 30 percent jump from the previous year.  

It's still too early to tell how this season will sugar out - but as VPR's Nina Keck reports, many sugarmakers think they'll have another good season.

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(Keck) At the Baird Farm in North Chittenden, Bob Baird watches over a pot of syrup he's boiling down and thickening for sugar on snow.   Baird works about 5,000 taps on 80 acres.   He says so far he's produced about 2,100 gallons of syrup and though that's down slightly from last year, he says he's having a good season. 

(Baird) "A good season is a productive season and the weather is certainly the deciding factor.  What is bad for maple sugaring is really warm days.  And the days we had last week or the week before that were in the 60s were not good for sugaring because the trees try to heal the holes and seal off the sap flow. "

(Keck) Last year, Baird and other sugar producers watched the price of maple syrup skyrocket as world wide demand soared. This year, Baird says with a smile looks like it will be another strong one for the industry.

(Baird) "Bulk prices have come down a tiny bit - reason the prices have come down is last year was an exceptional year for maple syrup production so there was a lot of supply.   Previously the supply was much less.   The markets are continuing to grow and I just had a phone call last night from New Zealand and they wanted between 150 and 200 gallons and it seems like all over the world the demand is growing."

(Keck)  Baird says predicting how much longer they'll be able to boil sap is always difficult -  but he thinks he'll have another week or week and a half - though he knows farmers in southern Vermont who've already stopped.   

VPR Photo/N. Keck
(Baird ) "I've been doing this for a long time - the most unusual thing about this year was what a long spell we went without a break where we were boiling every day.  I looked through my records and the sap started running on the 6th of March and we started boiling on the 7th and we boiled yesterday and went over two weeks every single day - the sap just didn't stop.   It was over two weeks without a break which is a long time.   You look tired - I am (laughs)."

(Keck) Maple sugar producers point out that they won't be able to assess the season as a whole until Canada - which supplies about 70 percent of the world's supply- finishes its season.   And maple producers say that's still two weeks to a month away.  

For VPR news, I'm Nina Keck in Chittenden.

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