Study examines how maple trees fare tapping


copyright the Chronicle June 14, 2017


by Tena Starr


The Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill has launched a first-of-its kind study. It’s looking at the long-term effects of tapping a maple tree.

Like others, Derby sugarmaker Steve Wheeler said he was astonished that concrete information about how drilling holes into a tree and sucking its sap out year after year hasn’t previously been collected.

Mr. Wheeler, who is an organic sugarmaker, said he was among those who called for the study. Organic sugarmakers as well as those whose land is in the Current Use program, are required to follow best practices for sugaring. Among other things, they want scientific, rather than anecdotal, data to support those best practices, Mr. Wheeler said.

“I’m one of the guys who has said, hey, we really need this study. The whole thing about organic is it’s about the long-term sustainability of the sugarbush.”

Research assistant professor Abby van den Berg at the Proctor Center said the study will last ten years. The goal is to collect empirical data on what effect tapping and collecting sap has on the health and growth of maples.

The fact that no one has ever studied that rather big subject is, in part, because “we have been doing this for a hundred plus years over and over again, and the trees are still healthy and thriving,” said Ms. van den Berg about sugaring. “That, anecdotally, gives us the answer to that question. We know we are not detrimentally impacting trees when we’re following good practices.”

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Sugarmaking turns into big business


copyrigh the Chronicle April 6, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

Sugarmaking has turned into big business in Vermont.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Vermont sugarmakers made 1.3 million gallons of syrup in 2015, more than double the 500,000 gallons produced in 2008.

A lot of the growth is from new technology – vacuum pumps that keep the sap flowing at continuous levels instead of starting and stopping with the weather, and reverse osmosis, a process that removes up to 75 percent of the water in the sap before boiling even begins, said Mark Isselhardt, a maple specialist at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center.

All of that efficiency means that sugarmakers can tap more trees.

But progress can come at a price.…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Vermont sugarmakers turn to birch syrup


Darrell Bussino (left) and Bucky Shelton have started a new kind of sugaring venture.  They’re making birch syrup, which had a retail price last year of $78 a quart.  Photo by Jeremy Dean

Darrell Bussino (left) and Bucky Shelton have started a new kind of sugaring venture. They’re making birch syrup, which had a retail price last year of $78 a quart. Photo by Jeremy Dean

by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle April 30, 2014

GLOVER — A pair of Glover men may have found a new way to get money from trees — birch trees.

Longtime maple sugarmaker Bucky Shelton and a friend, Darrell Bussino, have teamed up and are making birch syrup. Its retail price is around $300 a gallon, and about the only significant source of it in the world, right now, is Alaska, which sells as much as it can make.

“It was an idea conceived by Darrell and I,” Mr. Shelton said on Monday. “He had an asset in some white birch, and I’d had this in the back of my mind.”

His daughter lives in Alaska, so he was aware of the birch syrup industry there, where he recently paid $20 for eight ounces at an Anchorage farmers market.

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