Mother Nature puts Vt. sugar makers behind schedule - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Mother Nature puts Vt. sugar makers behind schedule

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Winter is not loosening her grip on us just yet. Sugar makers in Vermont are still waiting for ideal conditions, warmer temperatures during the day and cooler at night, but now more winter weather is heading our way for the weekend, perhaps further closing the window of opportunity for those who make Vermont's signature product.

Usually by this time in March sugar maker Michael Isham of Williston would be going around the clock, boiling sap for maple syrup. Not this year.

"It's been a trying year. It's been cold doesn't seem to warm up. There is a lot of snow in the woods still," said Isham.

Sugar makers need day temperatures in the 40's to get the sap flowing. Isham usually makes between 500 and 600 gallons of syrup a season. This year he has made only 50 gallons, and has sold out.

"In a normal year we would be probably 3/4 of the way done. We usually start three days in February, I count on the. The month of March is your primary month, and then maybe we go until the first week of April," said Isham.

Now the best thing that could happen would be for a gradual warm up, with nights still below freezing to help extend the sugaring season, but Isham takes this extreme winter in stride.

"That's agriculture you know it is never easy. I think the farmers complain more about the weather than the ski areas," said Isham.

In the meantime, there is plenty of work to do in the sugar house, like wiring more lighting, powered by solar panels at the farm. Isham hopes to get the sap flowing by Saturday, and make more syrup Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

"The public is always welcome to stop by anytime they see steam coming out of the sugar house they are always welcome," said Isham.

Isham has wood loaded in the evaporator; all he needs now, is a good thaw. Don't we all.

Sugar makers say the next two weeks will be very important for this years' production.

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