Monday, January 5, 2009

Ice Storms Ruin Many Northeastern Farms

Maple Syrup Farmers Hit Hard by Ice Storm
By Miranda Grossman
Story Published: Jan 2, 2009 at 7:14 PM EST
Story Updated: Jan 2, 2009 at 7:14 PM EST

Things are getting a little sticky for maple syrup producers in Western Massachusetts. Local farmers are dealing with the aftermath of damaged trees from last month's ice storm.
Much of Tom McCrumm's 80 acres of sugar maples barely made it through last month's ice storm.

"To see this kind of damage is nauseating," said McCrumm.

McCrumm's been in the maple syrup business for more than 30 years, but he's never seen an ice storm devastate his South Face Farm in Ashfield like this one.

"Here are two other smaller trees that will never come into production because they've been uprooted," explained McCrumm pointing to fallen trees.

McCrumm and other Western Massachusetts syrup farmers worst fear came true, when the ice storm toppled trees, ripped down limbs, and tore apart the tubing that collects the sap. "Not only have I loss some trees entirely because it snapped off or uprooted, a lot of the ones that are damaged I won't be able to tap for 5 or 10 years until they recover," said McCrumm.

About 100 farms across Western Massachusetts are suffering losses, but those hit the hardest were ones at higher elevations. It takes about 50 years for a sugar maple to grow back to a tappable size, leaving many maple producers severely effected. "I would estimate that the state is going to have 50% of its normal production this year," said McCrumm.

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