The steam is rising at maple syrup maker Green Mountain Mainlines in Fletcher. The season is right about on schedule. Tapping starts in January or early February depending on the weather -- and the warm weather over the weekend was a big help.
"We took in yesterday, we took in about 100,000 gallons of sap and we boiled yesterday all day and we shut down last night. At midnight and we fired back up today because we are cleaning up everything that is left over from last night," said sugarmaker J.R. Sloan.
And now with the colder temperatures, Sloan figures this will be the last boil of the week. Green Mountain Mainlines has about 17,000 taps on the property, but buys sap from other people to produce about 42 to 48- thousand gallons of syrup a year. Some of his suppliers were hit hard by the December ice storm, which damaged the trees, and others were not, which means there is still plenty of sap out there. "By buying sap from all over in different counties where one guy got hit hard we are still all in the maple, but we are diversified, if that area like up in Granville got hit hard, so Georgia and that area didn't so hopefully we will always have sap to boil," Sloan said.
So any predictions on how this year's crop will be? "Absolutely not," Sloan said. "You never know -- It's just a guessing game."
But maple producers are optimists. Last year Sloan says they set a new record making 4,300 gallons of syrup in one day. This year he hopes to top that record. The syrup produced here is sold to Butternut Mountain Farms in Morrisville, where it is bottled and sold for retail. And while it is still very early in the season, Sloan figures prices for maple syrup will be about the same as last year, about $45 dollars a gallon.
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