Vermont's Sweet Treat

NEK - Spring is just right around the corner and that means warmer weather, mud and pothole season, longer days, and of course maple syrup season. Farms all across Vermont are gearing up to begin tapping those trees and making maple syrup. But, how exactly is maple syrup made?


The weather has to be just right for the trees to begin releasing their sap, According to Dr. Jason Shafer, Professor of Atmosspheric Science at NVU-Lyndon, " The best temperatures for strong sap flow are consecutive days with freezing and thawing cycles, typically with ait temperatures that reach the 40's during the day and mid 20's at night," Shafer explained. Plentiful sunshine also allows for the trees to warm up faster along with light winds. Maple syrup season typically begins in mid-February and lasts till mid-April. 

Once the sap is collected, it is time to process it into maple syrup. If you're boiling sap at home, it typically takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. The process involves boiling down the sap to increase the sugar content, and turn it into syrup. Once the boiling starts, you need to keep a consistent boil going untill the syrup is done, which could take a couple of hours. Maple Hill Farms in Barton VT uses a process called reverse osmosis or RO. Nick Lussier, the owner of Maple Hills farm says " The sap is released from the trees and enters the tubing system which meanders from the tree to a holding tank. From there the sap is processed through reverse osmosis, which mechanically removes 3/4 of the water so the evaporator can process the concentrate more efficiently. Without the RO process the evaporator would have to boil 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup". 

When asked how climate change is playing a roll in maple syrup season in Vermont Dr. Jason Shafer stated that currently climate change is not having any major effects on the season. " Year-to-year weather variability is a stronger signal.Stuborn cold spring temperatures in March and April actually produce a longer season". The last 40 years haven't shown any major shifts in the spring season starting early. Nick Lussier also doesn't feel like the season has changed much. He says technology has been getting better throughout the years and he's able to yield about 1/3 gallon of syrup per tree.