NY Maple Production Wraps Up, Earliest in Farm History

April 20, 2017 11:58 AM

Maple producers are wrapping up another season of harvest, collecting sap out of trees and turning it into products like syrup.

David Campbell, part owner of Mapleland Farms in Salem, N.Y., is known as the candy man because he’s the face behind many sugar and syrup delights.

“All year, we’re making candy, every week,” said Campbell.

Campbell knows more than the recipe. He taps trees which produce sap, the key ingredient from his family’s maple operation located next to the Vermont state line. Campbell says this season is the longest in his career and it’s all due to weather.

“This year we made syrup January 23, which is the earliest we’ve ever made syrup,” said Campbell.

The weather was mild enough, early enough to make the sap flow. However, he says Mother Nature did not over produce, only tapping three-quarters of a normal crop.

"It’s either been too warm or too cold,” said Campbell. “The weather swings are good for production, but this year the weather swings have tended to be more extreme.”

It’s not the first year this has happened. Some producers get help from new vacuum technology which pulls the sap from the tree.

Producers can also rely on Mother Nature freezing and thawing to push the sap out. Then, the sap fills a chamber inside the tank that can hold 3,000 gallons of sap.

Then it’s pumped and transported to the sugar house. A reverse osmosis machine separates the water and the sap is boiled. It’s the first step in making syrup. 

“It just flows through channels, getting concentrated and thicker until it gets to the finished syrup stage which is 67 percent sugar,” said Campbell.

Campbell in his sugar house from two to four hours, depending on the amount drawn, which eventually all ends up in anything from a maple bourbon to maple syrup. 

“We average making 80 gallons of syrup an hour,” said Campbell. 

As another season comes to a close, Campbell will soon shut the doors at the sugar house moving to creating syrupy bliss for all to eat. 

The business sells to online, restaurants and even home food deliveries in New York City. Campbell has somewhere between 65 and 70 miles of pipe in his woods for 17,000 taps.

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