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Second state for syrup

Maple production up across NY, beating Maine — but not Vermont

July 15, 2016
By ANDY FLYNN, Editor, and KAITLYN SMITH, Staff Writer (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Maple syrup production increased this year in New York state, which retained its status as the second largest producer in the U.S., behind Vermont.

One New York maple industry official would like to see the Empire State eventually surpass the Green Mountain State in maple production, but a local researcher says that is unlikely.

"New York has more trees (than recent years) and is developing more, but Vermont is moving at a much faster pace," said Michael Farrell, sugarhouse manager at the Uihlein Forest Cornell Maple Program field station on Bear Cub Lane.

Article Photos

News photo — Andy Flynn
Michael Farrell, director of the Uihlein Forest Cornell Maple Program, gives the boiling maple syrup an old-fashioned sheet test with a metal scoop March 4 at the sugarhouse on Bear Cub Lane. Nowadays, an electronic thermometer triggers the draw of maple syrup into a barrel when it reaches a certain temperature.

New York and Maine typically vie for second place in maple production, but New York has held that title for the past three years, according to the Northeast Maple Syrup Production report prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Agricultural Statistics Service. The rivalry was close in 2014, with New York producing only 1,000 gallons of syrup more than Maine's 545,000 gallons. In 2015, the margin grew with a yield of 601,000 gallons to 553,000. And this year, New York produced 707,000 gallons to Maine's 675,000.

New York's 18 percent jump in production - attributed to an extended season because of warmer-than-normal temperatures - gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo something to brag about, which he recently did in a press release.

"New York produces some of the best maple syrup anywhere on the globe, a product that remains a key part of this state's agriculture industry," Cuomo said in the release. "I congratulate our hard-working maple producers on their sweet success and another record-breaking season."

Fact Box

STICKY MATH

Maple syrup, in gallons:

545,000 New York produced in 2014

601,000 New York produced in 2015

707,000 New York produced this year

675,000 Maine produced this year

1.99 million Vermont produced this year

1.25 million New York produced in 1920

New York's maple production constituted about 16.8 percent of the national total, as opposed to Vermont, whose 1.99 million gallons of syrup was 47.3 percent of the national total. This year's production in New York marks a 70-year high, and the number of taps continues to climb with more than 2.515 million in production this year, the highest number of since 1947. In comparison, Vermont has 4.85 million taps, and Maine has 1.86 million.

"In cooperation with Mother Nature we were able to increase the amount of maple made this year in the state, keeping us #2 in the nation, shooting for #1!" New York State Maple Producers' Association President Tony Van Glad said in the governor's press release.

The governor's Taste NY program partners with many New York maple producers to offer their products at Taste NY stores and cafes throughout the state. They are also featured at Taste NY sampling events annually, and at the popular maple producers booth in the Horticulture Building at the State Fair, where maple popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy are among the treats available.

The average maple syrup collecting season in New York this year was 36 days, according to the USDA, 10 days longer than 2015. By comparison, the 2013 season was 40 days long, on average.

At the Uihlein Forest in Lake Placid, the season lasted seven weeks and production increased 50 percent from the previous year, according to Farrell. He said he doesn't believe New York will pass Vermont in maple production, but he, too, is optimistic.

"Continuous advances may help production in the upcoming years," Farrell said. "It is a long-term program to improve the trees in the area."

Historically, however, New York is producing far less than it did in the early 20th century.

In 1879, New York produced more than 10 million pounds of maple sugar and 266,000 gallons of syrup, according to the Nov. 26, 1930, issue of the Malone Farmer. By 1899, the yield was about 3.6 million pounds of sugar and more than 413,000 gallons of syrup. In 1920, New York produced 2.2 million pounds of sugar and 1.25 million gallons of syrup. By 1930, the state made less than 1 million pounds of sugar and about 1.1 million gallons of syrup.

Yet New York's maple industry is clearly on the rebound. In 2007, the state produced 224,000 gallons of maple syrup compared to this year's yield of 707,000 gallons.

 
 

 

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