With daily temperatures fluctuating between the 20′s and low 40′s for the past week in western Massachusetts, conditions are right for maple sugaring season. Some maple sugar farmers around the region have already had taps in trees for several weeks. Shelley Boisvert, manager of North Hadley Sugar Shack, says her farm began collecting sap in mid-February.
“I hope we’re just beginning really, like a couple weeks in or so,” she says. “So I hope we have another four weeks left.”
Boisvert says a longer season would be welcome after last year, when warm temperatures ended sap runs in mid-March. She says despite the shortened season, her farm still managed to bring in about 75 percent of its average crop because she chose to start tapping trees in early February. Boisvert says milder winter temperatures over the past three years have prompted the North Hadley farm to plan on starting every sugaring season one or two weeks early.
“That two weeks is a huge difference for us in a four to six week season. If we don’t tap at the right time, that can mean a half a crop, possibly. So, it’s more on our end. We just have to pay attention to the weather pattern and get used to getting ready and getting out there a little bit earlier.”
Boisvert says the North Hadley Sugar Shack produces between 60 and 75 gallons of maple syrup per day at the peak of sugaring season. She says about 40 gallons of sap must be boiled down to make one gallon of syrup.