April 6, 2014

Maple sugaring season is underway

The calendar says spring is here. Days are getting longer, and every time I get to feel the radiant warmth of the sun beaming down from a glacial blue sky, it sure feels good. 

A lot of us think of early spring as mud season. I prefer to think of it as maple season, a remarkable time of transition. I’ve learned to look beyond the ice, grit, slush and moosh to the buckets hanging on the sugar maples and the gentle mist that rises from the melting snow in the field behind; and to the blue sap lines in the forest beyond, which stands majestically bathed in sunshine and shadow as clouds slowly lumber across the sky.

We’ve all grown weary of the relentless cold, ice and snow. Almost all of the region’s maple syrup producers finished tapping their trees in February, but as I sit down to write this article during the last weekend in March, many, including almost all of those at higher elevations, have still not made any syrup. Some still have sap lines buried under snow.

At lower elevations, sap has run a little. But when it stops, the anticipation begins again as producers wait for empty sap lines to flow or frozen lines to thaw.

Sugaring is weather-related. Production hinges on the freezing nights and daytime thaws. Optimum production occurs when nighttime temperatures fall into the mid-20s and daytime temperatures range in the low 40s, preferably with sunny skies.

When asked whether the late start will affect the overall season, Extension Associate Michael Farrell, regional maple specialist and director of Cornell’s Uihlein Forest in Lake Placid said, “Time will tell. Generally we would have been making syrup by now. Hopefully, we will have several weeks of good sap-collecting weather in April.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Gast_Richard.jpg Bee balm a beautiful garden herb

    Not only to the flowers add color to the summer landscape, the plant has a long history of medicinal and herbal use, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Drip irrigation has many benefits

    The system targets the correct amount of moisture directly to plants while not washing away nutrients, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Climate assessment a cautionary tale

    Major impacts of global warming will have a profound impact on the region's future, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    June 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Be a locavore

    Farmers markets offer easy way to support local agriculture, maintain a nutritious diet, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    June 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Raised-bed gardening workshop offered

    Cooperative Extension may have a better way to conveniently grow vegetables, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Asparagus offers a taste of spring

    Cultivation of widely grown delicacy goes back to ancient times, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    May 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Maple sugaring season is underway

    Climate change has generally pushed back the season, but this year has been an exception, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Seed-starting workshop offered

    Cooperative Extension offers everything you will need to start a successful garden from scratch, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Addiction to energy has costs

    Damage to environment, climate change just two of the problems caused by runaway energy consumption, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    March 9, 2014 1 Photo