March 20, 2014

Editorial: It's maple syrup time again

Some North Country maple-syrup producers are likening this winter to the old-fashioned winters of the past, when the sap didn't run until mid-March or even April.

Spoiled by recent cold-weather seasons when temperatures moderated in February and early March, many have had to modify their timing this year.

But have no fear. There will be plenty of the 2014 product available in time for both this weekend's statewide Maple Weekend and the following Saturday and Sunday, March 29 and 30.

In order for the maple sap to run, the optimum weather calls for warm days and cold nights, not cold-cold. Several sugar-bush operators were able to take advantage of recent daytime moderation in temperatures when they occurred.

New York state currently ranks second in the nation in maple production, accounting for 18 percent of the nation's output with 574,000 gallons produced in 2013. Also, last year the state's maple producers used 2.2 million taps, the largest number of taps since 1949, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Maple Weekend, which is an annual event put on by the New York State Maple Producers Association, will take place at more than 100 locations here and around the state. There, maple producers will show visitors how maple syrup is produced in sugar houses, going through the process from tree to table.

Pancake breakfasts will be hosted by many local producers and treats like maple cotton candy, maple popcorn and maple-sugar candy will be available. And the price is right: Free.

Maple Weekend is a great way to shake off the winter doldrums and cure cabin fever. Just as important is for folks to learn about the agricultural component in the county's vast farming industry. And by visiting the sugar houses, they can see how maple syrup is made, smell it, taste it and experience the heritage of the product.

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