Cold temperatures delay Vt. sugaring season - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Cold temperatures delay Vt. sugaring season

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The warm sun Friday was a welcome break to the subzero winter weather. Maple sugar producers have been getting their equipment ready to start their season. While mild temperatures allowed some to boil a couple of weekends ago, the official start of the season might still be several days off.

It sure felt and sounded like spring during the day Friday, but maple producers are still on hold thanks to the below zero temperatures this winter.

"Yeah, it's been cold, we would sure like it to warm up a little bit so the sap will run, um it's not terribly unusual we have had many springs where sap hasn't started running until pretty late in March," said Tim Wilmot a UVM Extension maple specialist.

At the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill, the trees, like most of the rest of Vermont, are quite frozen and it will take a while for them to thaw out.

"One of the concerns about a season that starts really late is we know sooner or later the really warm spring weather is going to come, so if we don't start sugaring until April we know that the season is going to be short. We just hope that the few weeks where it does exist are going to be really good weeks," said Wilmot. 

The best weather for sugaring is warmer days and nights below freezing.

Along with Mother Nature, research also plays a big role in sugaring and there is always something new to discover. Take for instance tap depth.

Research takes center stage here. While they do produce maple syrup, almost every single maple tree is used in some sort of experiment.

"It's part of our revision of the tapping guidelines that all sugar makers use taping depths is one of the many aspects of how we tap and something that we have never had the research results that can show exactly which depth is best in terms of sap yield and in terms of the long term sustainability of this," said Wilmot.

This is the third year of this research and scientists hope to have a new version of the maple producers manual in the next few years and this will certainly be part of it.

But right now all eyes are on this sugaring season.

"People are certainly anxious to get going I wouldn't say there is a lot of concern yet. We are just happy to be out here listening to the chickadees and feeling the warm sun and hopefully soon we will be in business," said Wilmot.

And then the annual race will be on, to boil as much sap as the trees will provide. 

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