Technology balances weather woes in syrup production

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(Host) Vermont maple syrup producers say technology helped them overcome less than ideal sugaring weather this year.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) Vermont producers turned out about 400,000 gallons of maple syrup this year. Next to last year’s bumper crop of nearly 500,000, it’s the best year since 1996.

Jake Couture is with the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association. He says producers battled a long winter and a spring with too many warm nights. At his farm in Westfield, Coutcher managed just 33 days of boiling, compared to six weeks in some years:

(Couture) “I’ve been producing maple syrup all my life and every year seems to have a certain uniqueness about it. Just enough to make you stop and realize you’re not in charge, just a spectator.”

(Zind) Couture says producers who used vacuum systems to draw the sap out of the trees fared better than others this year. In some cases they were able to produce more syrup than last year. Couture, who’s also a dairy farmer, says the state’s sugaring industry is in good shape.

(Couture) “Maple sugaring, unlike dairy farming or other types of agriculture tends to stay fairly constant. I’ve seen over the years many dairy farms close and the sugaring portion of it, in many cases, continue to be viable. In the last few years, we’ve seen some new operations open up.”

(Zind) All the maple syrup made in the world is produced in the northeastern United States and Canada. Vermont is the largest producer in the U.S., but the state’s output is dwarfed by the large maple syrup industry in Canada.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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