Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hartford Courant Highlights 2009 Sugaring Season

Tapping Maple Syrup Gold Mine
Producers Taking Advantage Of Record High Prices
By JOHN CURRAN Associated Press
March 5, 2009

For years, Errol Tabacco was a maple-sugar hobbyist. Each February, he'd tap about 100 trees on his property in Eden, Vt., haul buckets of sap to his garage and boil it into syrup for his family and friends.This year's different.Spurred by retail prices of $60 or more per gallon, maple-sugar producers such as Tabacco are going all out to harvest it, tapping more trees, investing in new sap lines and building new sugarhouses in hopes of cashing in.Tabacco is racing to get up to 12,000 trees tapped by the time the sap starts running during the next few weeks. "This year, we're going big-time," he says.

For backyard hobbyists and larger commercial producers alike, New England's "sugarin' season" could be a real moneymaker this year. The University of Vermont's Proctor Research Center estimates 300,000 taps will be added this year.Global demand for the sticky-sweet syrup outstripped supply last year, in part because lingering winter cold and heavy snow combined to slow sap flow in Quebec, Maine and parts of Vermont. That, combined with the exhaustion of Canadian reserves, has helped drive up prices, experts said.In 2007, the average retail price of a gallon of maple syrup was $33.20, up $1.90 from the previous year, according to federal data.

Now, it fetches $59.95 or more in Vermont, and more elsewhere.

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