New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine recognized the start of New York’s maple season last weekend, which involves more than 1,500 producers collecting and boiling sap from sugar maple trees to make pure New York maple syrup, the State’s first agricultural product of the year.
“It appears spring has arrived and sap is running from maple trees across New York State,” the Commissioner said. “New York is blessed to have an abundance of maple trees that give us sweet sap that is boiled down into delicious syrup. These next two weekends are dedicated to maple syrup production in New York and I encourage families to take part by visiting their local sugarhouse and learn about New York’s sweetest treat.”
To celebrate New York’s maple season, the industry is hosting its 17th Annual Maple Weekend March 26-27, 2012. Over the course of the next two weekends, 142 sugarhouses throughout the State will open their doors to the public in an effort to share with New Yorkers the process of syrup-making from tree to table. The public is invited to take free, self-guided tours and see the process first-hand between 10 am and 4 pm. Some sugarhouses offer pancake breakfasts and gift shops as well. For more information and for a list of participating sugar houses, visit http://www.mapleweekend.com.
Helen Thomas, Executive Director of the New York State Maple Producers Association, said, “It’s been a reasonable maple season for most New York maple producers so far. This year’s crop has an excellent, mellow flavor. We hope the gorgeous weather and the sweet smell of sap boiling in our sugarhouses will bring out families to participate in Maple Weekend throughout the State.”
Tapping sugar maple trees has been a long tradition in New York State, and legend has it the first tree was mistakenly tapped by a Native American chief practicing tomahawk throwing. Warm days and cold nights are ideal for sap flow, and therefore, the typical sugaring season usually runs from late February through early April. The harvest season ends with the coming of spring’s warm nights and the first stages of bud development on the trees.
New York experienced an excellent maple season in 2011 with an abundance of cold nights and warm days, resulting in one of the largest maple crops in recent history. The sap started to run on March 5 and ran through April 7. Maple producers gathered 0.280 gallons of sap per tap, almost double the sap from 2010 when producers only received 0.164 gallons of sap per tap. It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. With 2.01 million taps in New York, maple producers made 564,000 gallons in 2011, an 81 percent increase from the year prior, and the highest production since 1947.
New York maple syrup accounts for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s maple production, ranking New York second behind Vermont in both production and value. In 2010, New York’s 1,500 maple producers generated $12.3 million in sales.
Consumers can be certain they are purchasing New York maple syrup by looking for maple containers that have either the “Pride of New York” or “New York Maple – Taste the Tradition” emblems, or by visiting a local sugarhouse and purchasing maple products there.