Winter thaw triggers sap run in maple country

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(Photo by M. Rehemtulla)

WEST TOPSHAM, Vt. — A winter thaw has triggered sap to flow in maple trees, launching an early start to the maple syrup season for some producers in parts of New England who chose to tap trees early.

Many of those taking advantage of the warmer weather were larger operations with plastic tubing and vacuum systems.

The Corse Farm in the southern Vermont town of Whitingham started tapping on Jan. 31, the earliest date in the farm’s 148-year-old history.

Some of those who tap trees and attach buckets were either caught flat-footed, or elected to hold off. Tapping trees too early can allow the tap to dry out, limiting flow later.

As for the price of the sweet stuff, which in Vermont goes for an average of about $49 a gallon retail, it’s too early to tell how the four-to-six-week season will unfold and how much syrup will be produced.