Parker Rowe and his daughter, Meredith, check one of their 4,000 taps in the woods of Andover. The sap is too cold to run. (DAN SEUFERT PHOTO)
Frigid weather has maple producers expecting a 'couple of weeks' delay
Each year, Rowe uses a felt-tip pen to record the first day of maple sugaring season. The dates go back a decade or so, and are mostly from this time of year: March 3, March 8, March 5. There's even one from February.
"We're usually able to get started around town meeting time," he said. "This year we're a couple of weeks behind."
This winter's bitter, near record-breaking cold has been great for snowmaking crews and ice fishermen. But it's going on a little long for some people, including maple sugarers.
"It looks like it might be a late start," said Mike Moore of Sunnyside Maples in Loudon, who has about 3,000 taps "ready to go when the weather decides to change."
From the end of one hose, a trickle of sap was frozen into an icicle. That probably happened a few weeks ago when the temperature reached into the 40s, enough to coax a bit of sap out of the trees, he said.
"We need 40-degree days and 20-degree nights, not these 10- and 20-degree days," Rowe said. "And for the season to last, we can't start running into 70-degree days and 50-degree nights."
"The sap wants to run, the sun is warming things up, but everything is still frozen," Rowe said.
It's no time to panic, though.
"I guess it is more of a traditional year," Rowe agreed. "But this cold weather has to break sometime."