Maple syrup producers tapping earlier this season

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 6:14 PM EST
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TOWN OF WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - This year’s warmer winter has had a noticeable change for local maple producers and at least one sugar shack is reaping the benefits.

In a normal year, sap tends to flow at the beginning of March. On account of our warmer winter, this year’s timeline accelerated a little.

“Ten days earlier tapping than last year, maybe even two weeks, so it’s an adjustment,” said Scott Zehr, owner of Maplewood Sweets LLC.

The early thaw caught the folks at local sugar shack Maplewood Sweets off-guard since they weren’t ready for a February harvest. But thanks to some last-minute scrambling, they were able to capitalize on it.

“It wasn’t easy but we made it happen, so it was rewarding,” said Zehr.

“Thanks to our warmer winter, Maplewood Sweets has already been able to produce about 400 gallons of maple syrup and there’s still a lot more to go.

“That’s about 10% of my goal for the year. But on an overall level, it’s a good start,” said Zehr.

But an early start also runs the risk of a shorter season since trees have a greater chance of being exposed to bacteria. That could cause their tap holes to close up, preventing any sort of harvest.

However, Zehr isn’t worried.

“We do a really nice job in the woods of keeping things clean and running when they need to be running. So I don’t think we’re running too big of a risk,” said Zehr.

If all goes according to plan, Maplewood Sweets aims to end the season with 4,000 gallons of maple syrup - far more than last year’s yield of 1,100.