Cold New York Winter Makes Good Maple Syrup

To watch the weather on a national news outlet, one would think that the Northeast suffered a terrible winter. But Tom Cassidy (Ag Radio Network, Inc., Barneveld, NY), who has lived in the Northeast for nearly 50 years, thinks that it was as typical as could be. Big snows early, an early thaw that left communities under water, a bitter cold snap, a few big snows and an unusually long, drawn out maple season has characterized the winter of 2018 for Tom. “Farmers in New York are prepared for the wild variations in weather that a typical winter can bring.

Today’s maple syrup evaporator.

Livestock is taken care of no matter what, then the rest of the farm is tended to as best as can be managed,” Tom explained. “Though Northeast agriculture is overwhelmingly livestock-(dairy)based, it is very diverse when it comes to secondary products. The heavy hardwood forests and hilly terrain along with good, consistent cold winter temperatures make it ideal for maple syrup production,” he adds. “The mild end to the winter this year has led to an unusually long and very productive maple season. Night time temperatures below freezing and day temps above make for an ideal sap run and a high sugar content syrup.”  “When I was a boy, we used a 4' x 12' pan in the barnyard, and we burned old fence posts to heat it. Our family of six spent two hours every evening during the season collecting the sap in old milk cans from about 250 taps,” Tom said. “My mother tended the fire during the day while we were at school and Dad was at work. We took turns tending the fire at night. It takes 40 gallons of raw sap from the tree to make one gallon of syrup. Today’s evaporator makes about 200 gallons per day, collecting 8,000 gallons from 4,000 taps every day.