Maple Crop 2019
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its statistics for 2019 maple syrup production - Vermont production was up 7-percent and we again lead the country in the number of taps (6 million) and gallons produced (a little over 2 million).
Nationally there were 13.3 million taps and and 4.2 million gallons of syrup produced.
Maple syrup production levels rely heavily on weather patterns, requiring a stretch of cold nights and warm days, before trees begin to bud. In 2012, for example, the number of taps had increased considerably (by almost a million) but syrup production dropped by 250,000 gallons due to an extended run of days in the 70’s and even 80’s early in the spring.
Technology has helped overcome some of the climate-related problems in syrup production. About 10 years ago, for example, UVM’s Proctor Maple Research Center introduced check valve spouts that allow for much longer runs, as the valve prevents sap from flowing back into the tree carrying bacteria that prompts natural defense mechanisms in the maple to start closing over the tap hole. This feature can be particularly useful in significantly fluctuating temperatures, when you might have sugar runs very early in the season, then a freeze over, then another run later on. In spite of innovation staying ahead of climate concerns thus far, there’s still cause to worry about future shifts and every maple production report brings a new crop of stories outlining the problem (such as this May 2019 article from the New York Times).
The value of the 2019 maple crop won’t be calculated until 2020, but 2018’s crop brought in $54.3 million and Vermont’s average price per gallon was $28.00, up $1.00 from 2017. The average retail price for a gallon of syrup was $45.30. However, retail sales were only 9% of our market, the vast majority were bulk sales (87% - down from 92% in 2017). You can contrast the Vermont market with, for example, Connecticut where the average price of a gallon of syrup was $76 - driven by retail sales of small quantities of syrup. The full report from NASS is available online.