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Gov. Shumlin celebrates 2016 sugaring season

Courtesy of  VermontVacation.com, by Stephen Goodhue

Buckets hang on maple trees awaiting the sap to run for the roughly four-week season that sugarers hope to get this spring for a successful year.

Gov. Peter Shumlin celebrated Vermont’s 2016 maple sugar season Monday, March 14, with a ceremonial tree tapping event at Sugartree Maple Farm in Williston.

The Governor was joined by Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, Consumer Protection Chief and state maple expert, Henry Marckres, Executive Director of the Vermont Sugar Makers Association (VSMA) Matthew Gordon, as well as 3rd and 4th graders from Williston Central Elementary school who aided the governor in the tree-tapping process, and accompanied him on an educational tour of the Sugartree Maple Farm facility. 

Mark and Amy Yandow’s Sugartree Maple Farm encompasses 49 acres of prime sugar maple trees, 4,200 taps, and a modern wood fired sugarhouse boasting a new reverse osmosis machine capable of processing 900 gallons of sap an hour.  Designed to evaporate 75 percent of the water out of the sap before it enters the evaporator, reverse osmosis machines enable sugar makers to save both valuable time and fuel. 

“According to a recent study, Vermont’s maple industry contributed between $317 and $330 million in total sales to the state economy in 2013, in addition to supporting roughly 3,000 full-time jobs and over $140 million in profits and wages,” said Gov. Shumlin. “Maple is Vermont’s signature brand, and the kind of technological innovations that we see right here at Surgartree Maple Farm – combined with the Vermont entrepreneurial spirit – will ensure Vermont’s maple industry remains the national leader in production and quality.” 

In response to questions about the variable weather conditions this year, Agency of Agriculture Consumer Protection Chief and state maple expert, Henry Marckres said, “It has certainly been an interesting weather year, but it’s hard to say for certain how the weather will affect production over the course of the season. It takes 40 days to make a season; I think we’ve probably had about 15 strong days so far. It looks like we’re supposed to get some cold nights over the next week or so, which should result in good runs and will hopefully carry us until April.” 

Despite this winter’s variable weather conditions, Vermont continues to lead that nation in maple production. In 2015, Vermont produced 41 percent of the nation’s syrup, roughly 1.4 million gallons, twice the amount produced by the next largest maple states, combined (New York and Maine each produced 17 percent). The value of Vermont’s maple crop in 2014 was over $44.5 million.

“Maple production in this state has increased by 111 percent since 1992 – from 570,000 to 1,320,000 gallons a year,” said Chuck Ross, Secretary of Agriculture. “This astounding is growth a testament to our sugar makers, who not only help promote and preserve Vermont’s heritage, but also help to ensure our state’s Working Landscape endures for future generations of Vermonters to enjoy. We could not be more proud to lead the nation in syrup production!”

“We share this wonderful business with our children Matthew and Mackenzie and many other supportive family members and friends,” said Mark Yandow. “We all take part in the sugaring process — from cutting and stacking firewood, to the final boiling of the sap. We are exceedingly proud of our business, and honored to have the opportunity to host the governor in our sugarhouse.” 

To learn more about Vermont’s maple industry, please review this recently completed study conducted by UVM’s Center for Rural Studies for the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association: www.vermontbiz.com/news/march/study-vermont-maple-industry-contributes-more-300-million-sales-states-economy.

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