Maple producers hope for weather to turn corner
TILTON — Maple sugar producers in the state are resting their hopes for salvaging a good season on Mother Nature, and the weather forecasters, who are predicting the kind of warm days and cold nights ahead that are essential for maple production.
This month's icy cold temperatures have not allowed many maple producers to make much syrup. Last weekend's "Maple Weekend" events at sugar houses around the state was a limited success, said Barbara Proulx of Just Maple in Tilton.
"It's just been so cold, the trees haven't been able to give us much because they've been frozen," Proulx said.
"We had a couple of warm days last week," said Miranda Milano of Maple Ridge Sugar House in Loudon, "but it took a whole day to thaw out the trees, and then we went back into the deep freeze."
Proulx said her business, which has 400-500 taps, has produced a small amount this season, mostly from one warmer day last week. Milano said her business, which boils sap from about 8,200 taps on their property and on neighbors' land, has produced about 400 gallons this year; last year at this time, they had produced more than 1,000 gallons.
"So right now we are hundreds of gallons short," Milano said. There is hope, though, that the traditional 4-6 week maple sugaring season can still be salvaged.
"We're hoping that we're having a bit of a late spring," Milano said. "If all the usual things happen this spring, just a little bit later, we'll be OK."
The converse of this year's season happened two years ago, Proulx said, and that can't happen either if the season is to be salvaged.
"Two years ago we were having 70-80 degree temperatures at this time, and there was no snow pack, so the sap was very bitter-tasting," she said.
The good news comes from weather forecasters, who are predicting 40-degree days for at least a week starting Friday.
"We're crossing our fingers and toes, and hoping we can see at least two or three days of warmer weather," said Milano.
"I would say most sugar houses will be boiling sap this weekend," Proulx said.New Hampshire maple producers want syrup and sugar lover to know that this is Maple Month, so visitors are welcome this weekend at most sugar houses. For more, go to nhmapleproducers.com.