Bittersweet maple season as COVID-19 and weather impact business

Bittersweet maple season as COVID-19 and weather impact business

TOWN OF BROWNVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - “Alright, so who wants to learn about maple syrup?” asked Shawn Massey.

Massey is the owner of Massey Ranch in the Town of Brownville.

Typically, thousands of people visit this ranch for Maple Weekend, which falls at the end of March.

But COVID-19 restrictions meant less people could trickle in the doors. That wasn’t going to stop Massey from doing business.

“We decided to open. We tried to be safe, follow guidelines, keep everybody distanced, wear masks, and I can still educate. I can still teach the people how we make maple syrup. They can still see it,” said Massey.

Massey gives dozens of these presentations each day during Maple Weekend. It’s something he enjoys, even if his class is small.

Fewer in person customers sometimes means fewer sales, but something else has contributed to a decrease in cash flow for the maple producer this year.

“The weather is concerning me a little bit. It’s been a decent year, a little bit slow start,” said Massey.

Massey says to get sap from a tree, the temperature has to be above freezing during the day, and below freezing at night.

“If you look at the weather forecast for next week, the night time lows are above freezing,” said Massey.

And with fewer boils to make sap into syrup and less syrup produced than last year, Massey’s season may be cut short.

“So next week, if we get those nice conditions, and those trees bud, I’m done for the year until next year,” said Massey.

But the sweet part about maple? It comes back with the changing seasons.

And when it does, Massey will be back teaching people how it works.

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