Maple season underway in Vermont

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:05 PM EST
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RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt. (WCAX) - It is the sweetest time of year for maple syrup producers across the state. That includes the Silloway farm in Randolph Center.

Whether it’s loading wood onto the fire, cleaning barrels for storage or driving the sap-filled truck to the sugarhouse, everyone has a job at Silloway Maple, a third-generation farm.

“You look at the grandchildren and you think someone will catch the sugaring bug and carry on,” said Bette Lambert of Silloway Maple.

Silloway drills about 20,000 taps every year.

“Generally our goal would be to produce a half a gallon of syrup per tap,” said farm manager Paul Lambert.

And it’s a high-tech operation. The taps have sensors that monitor vacuum flow throughout the extensive network of lines.

“We can have a squirrel chew a line and know about it within a minute or two and go fix it,” Paul Lambert said.

He says the season is off to a bit of a slow start. Temperatures need to be well above freezing during the day for the sap to flow. But, year after year, the holding tanks fill and the sap is boiled down to sweet maple syrup.

“Being able to make a product from a tree and sell it directly to the consumer is awesome,” Paul Lambert said.

The industry as a whole has not been immune to the pandemic.

“We sell a lot to restaurants, Brooklyn and Cape Cod, and of course they were all closed. So our restaurant trade and the agritourism dropped off,” Bette Lambert said.

But, as maple ice cream is served from the new creamy machine, there is a concerted push toward value-added products.

“Branching out into the bourbon barrel-aged and the infused flavors. There is no limit to what you can make with maple,” Bette Lambert said.

On this day, a group of school bus drivers stopped by for an early-season treat.

“It just says everything about Vermont. That is what Vermont is known for. It is the best,” said Ginelle Ford of Randolph.

Vermont is the number one producer of maple syrup in the country with roughly 2 million gallons a year. And about half of all the syrup consumed across the U.S. is made right here in Vermont.

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