Colors of Spring

Maple syrup is a staple in most Vermont houses. If you don’t make it yourself you probably know somebody who does. The 2016 maple sugaring season is wrapping up, with many family sugar houses spewing steam late into the night over the past few weeks.

Concerns were raised this year about the impact that the lack of snow and warm temperatures will have on maple production.

A Vermont sugarhouse boils into the night.
A Vermont sugarhouse boils into the night.

Bruce Chapell, of Templeton Farm, said  “Bright sunshine and warm weather will push the season more than anything. I think the thing that saved us [this year], is we had some warm temperatures but not the bright sunshine.”

Chapell says he is not worried about the warmth but it remains up to nature to determine the rest of the season. “Our record is about 850 gallons and I think we may hit that this year,” Chapell added.  

Another change in the industry comes from the government, not the weather.   In late 2014, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture established new grades for our liquid gold. New grades were effective January 1st, 2015, requiring all containers to be labeled with the new grades.

The idea behind the new grades comes from the expansion of maple sales into international markets. The overall goal is to establish continuous color and taste classification across the globe. Most states have begun to follow the international standard to eliminate confusion in the global market.

Unfortunately, there has been some confusion with local markets as the focus shifts larger as many Vermonters have yet to understand the change.

Leonardo De Prato, owner of De Prato’s Maple Products said, “Some locals think it’s ridiculous that the syrup grades changed because they used to know the old grading system… Now they have to ask about which is which and it could lead to confusion at times.”

The goal of uniformity still remains the same with hope to expand the maple market bringing more revenue to local sugarmakers.

As Vermont sugarmakers begin to fire up for the 2016 season, the confusion may continue along with the warm weather, but there is no doubt that all of the sweet stuff is certainly “fancy”.

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