US maple syrup production up sharply in 2011

AP News
Posted: Jun 09, 2011 7:01 PM
US maple syrup production up sharply in 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials say 2011 was a sweet year for maple syrup production.

U.S. production of 2.79 million gallons was up 43 percent from 2010, an off year, and easily topped the previous record of 2.40 million gallons, set two years ago.

Vermont led the nation again, with its 1.14-million-gallon total surpassing 1 million gallons for the first time since the 1940s.

New York was second with 564,000 gallons, followed by Maine with 360,000 gallons. States from Maine to Ohio also had strong years.

Herman Ortiz of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service said Thursday that national syrup production figures go back only to 1992. But he said New England state records indicate the region produced more maple syrup this year than in any year since 1935.

Among the reasons for production growth were more people, including hobbyists, tapping trees on their properties, vacuum tube systems that pull the sap from trees, saving the labor that used to come from fetching sap buckets, and new taps with valves designed to prevent a longstanding problem for sugar producers _ sap flowing back into trees.

The 2010 U.S. maple syrup production totaled 1.96 million gallons, down 19 percent from 2009's record. Producers blamed an earlier warm-up last spring, leading trees to produce buds, which ends syrup production for the season.

It was unclear what effect the production boom would have on prices. The average price in New England in 2010 was $36.02 per gallon, down 50 cents from a year earlier.