Vermont leads nation in sugarmaking again

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Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar
Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle July 16, 2014 

by Natalie Hormilla

Vermont again led the nation in maple syrup production in 2014, according to a report by the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Vermont’s total production for this year was 1,320,000 gallons, about 42 percent of the total U.S. production of 3,167,000.

Both those numbers were down from last year. Vermont produced 1,480,000 gallons in 2013, and the nation produced 3,523,000 gallons.

The next highest producing states were New York and Maine with 17 percent each of the total U.S. production. Both those states also saw a decrease from 2013 production.

“The decrease in production from 2013 is primarily explained by highly favorable weather conditions experienced last year,” the report says.

The only state that increased production from 2013 was Pennsylvania, which made 146,000 gallons, up from 134,000 in 2013.

The USDA report includes ten states for its maple production statistics: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Vermont had 4,270,000 taps this year, which was the highest number of the states. New York followed with 2,200,000, of the 11,351,000 total taps in the U.S.

The number of taps in Vermont went up 70,000 from last year’s number of 4,200,000. The number of taps in 2013 jumped from 2012, when Vermont had just 3,500,000 taps.

Yield per tap was also highest in Vermont, with sugarmakers getting an average of .309 gallons per tap this year. The U.S. average was .279 gallons per tap. Pennsylvania was the only state to increase its yield per tap over last year, with .248 gallons per tap this year, over .230 gallons per tap in 2013.

At $33.40, Vermont had the second lowest price per gallon for maple syrup in 2013. That was down $2.10 from 2012. Maine had the lowest average price per gallon, at $32.

Connecticut had the highest average price per gallon, at $71, which was still much higher than the second highest average price per gallon of $48.80 in Michigan.

The USDA won’t release this year’s price statistics until June of 2015.

The high percentage of bulk sales in Vermont and Maine keeps the average price lower than in other states, the report says.

Ninety-six percent of 2013 sales in Maine were for bulk syrup. Vermont followed at 87 percent. Only 3 percent of sales in Vermont in 2013 were wholesale, and 10 percent were retail.

Vermont had the second highest all grades bulk price in 2013, at $30.30, trailing just behind Maine with an average price of $30.90.

Vermont had the third lowest wholesale price per gallon in 2013, at $38.50 (Maine’s wholesale price per gallon was withheld). Vermont sat in the very middle of the spectrum for the average retail price per gallon last year, at $45.30, which was the same as in New York.

Vermonters gathered sap for about 28 days of the season this year, down from a spike of 41 days in 2013, which was way up from 26 days in 2012. Vermont tied for the earliest reported season opening, January 10, with New Hampshire and New York. Vermont had the latest reported closing date of all the states, on May 23.

The average opening and closing dates in Vermont were on the later side, with March 20 and April 17, respectively. In 2013, the average opening and closing dates in Vermont were March 3 and April 13, respectively. Those dates were still much later than in 2012, when the average Vermont season opened on February 25 and closed on March 22.

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