Maple syrup season is upon us and local producers are tapping their trees, preparing for the upcoming maple syrup festivals.
“Everyone’s got their eye out for the weather,” said Arnie Hammel, a volunteer for Shepherd Sugar Bush.
Hammel says weather is crucial during the six week syrup season.
“You need cool nights like probably 20 degrees below freezing and then during the day, it needs to have about 40, 45, 50 degrees,” said Hammel.
Usually they start tapping trees mid-February.
They’re a little late this year but say it shouldn’t be a problem.
“Our job started about a week and a half ago when the trees got tapped,” said Hammel. “This was the first boil that we had and it could go on for a few more weeks let’s hope.”
Hammel says every year is different.
Their best year — they produced about 2,500 gallons of syrup.
Their worst was only about 1,000 gallons.
“The warm weather makes more pressure inside the tree so if you tap a tree right now, the sap would spit right back at you because there’s more pressure inside than the atmospheric pressure,” said Hammel.
Hammel says it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup.
“It’s pretty much labor intensive and that’s what the evaporator is doing. It’s blowing away the water,” said Hammel.
He says it’s important they produce enough, especially with the Maple Syrup Festival coming up the last weekend of April.
“It’s an agricultural product that’s probably the first thing in the year and so it’s an exciting thing,” said Hammel.
Something so many look forward to each year.
“It’s not smoke. It’s not clouds. It actually syrup boiling,” said Hammel. “The smell of the syrup as we see it boiling. You can smell it right now outside.”