Gov. Peter Shumlin kicked off Vermont's 2014 maple sugar season Thursday, officially tapping a maple tree at the Trapp Family Lodge sugarhouse. The Governor predicted a strong maple season despite the late start, and highlighted the maple industry’s important impact on Vermont’s economy and tourism business.
“We’re getting a late start this year, but by all accounts Vermont is expecting a great maple season,” the Governor said. He said the Trapp Family Lodge, where sugaring has been taking place since the late 1800s and the roughly 300 gallons produced each year are sold in the gift shop or online, is illustrative of the link between Vermont’s maple industry and its strong tourism focus.
“Trapps draws visitors to ski, swim, hike, mountain bike, sample our locally brewed beers, go bird-watching, and take home a few containers of Vermont maple syrup,” Gov. Shumlin said.
He noted that the Lodge sugars the old-fashioned way, with sap collected in buckets, and a team of draft horses pulling the sled to the large wood-fired evaporator. But new innovations have helped Vermont stay on the forefront of production. Among those:
• Smaller taps that are better for tree health without sacrificing production.
• Reverse osmosis, which allows water to be extracted from sap, resulting in higher sugar concentrations and less boiling time. It also saves fuel.
• Check valve spouts, which were developed by Dr. Tim Perkins of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, allowing less contamination of the taphole and increased production of sap.
Gov. Shumlin said these innovations – and more than are coming -- will ensure Vermont’s maple industry remains a leader in production techniques and quality, and will help provide resilience to an industry which is particularly susceptible to weather patterns and climate change.
Vermont leads the U.S. in maple production, making about 35 percent of the U.S. maple syrup annually 20 years ago and now averaging more than 40 percent. The number of taps has also climbed, from 2.1 million in 2000 to nearly 4 million in 2013. The average annual production has increased from 422,000 gallons (5-year average, 1999-2003) to 1 million gallons (5-year average, 2009-2013). And the average yield per tap is up approximately 33 percent due to investments in new equipment and technologies. (vacuum pumps, ROs, pre-heaters, etc.)
“Vermont’s sugar makers are continuing to expand the possibilities for Vermont maple syrup, growing their businesses in new ways,” said Matthew Gordon, Executive Director of the
Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association “Producers are making more syrup, developing new equipment for the industry, expanding into to new markets, and finding novel uses for one of Vermont’s signature products.”
“The Maple industry is an integral part of Vermont's economy, and is an essential element of our thriving Working Landscape,” said Chuck Ross, Secretary of Agriculture. “Sugarmakers are not only helping promote and preserve Vermont’s heritage, they are helping ensure our state’s Working Landscape endures for future generations of Vermonters to enjoy.”
“We could not be more proud to lead the nation in syrup production!” Ross added.
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment.
Media Contact: Scott Coriell, Office of the Governor, 802-353-1449