Monday, March 7, 2016

Maple Season Not Helped by Crazy Weather

Harry Komrowski tests his syrup for thickness.
This has been a bit of a crazy year for maple producers.

Temperatures need to be just right for the sap to start running in the maple trees so the producers can collect it and make maple syrup and other maple products.

At the beginning of February, the weather warmed up just enough for many producers to head out to their trees, tap and start harvesting sap. Temperatures need to be about 40 degrees or a little higher during the day to get the sap flowing and then down below
freezing (not too cold, in the upper 20s is best) at night.

As producers relished making syrup early in the season, their happiness was short-lived as temperatures plummeted in mid-February — even hitting single digits for highs Feb. 14 and lows way below zero for three straight days (Feb. 13, 14 and 15).

Now, toward the beginning of March, the temperatures have tempered a bit and producers are back to collecting sap.

Harry Komrowski, who has been running a maple operation on Tater Road in Lysander (just past Plainville) for more than 40 years, tries to make at least 1,000 gallons of syrup a year. This year, the weather has been so back and forth that he’s collected sap only three times.

“The weather’s been pretty bad,” he said. “It’s March and you can’t get any sap.”

Things should be much better this week (the week of March 7) as temperatures are supposed to rise, which forces the sap out of the trees. Once the sap is collected from the trees, the maple producers boil it to eliminate the water, leaving wonderful sweet syrup.

This past weekend, Komrowski, who also produced syrup on Comstock Road in Baldwinsville from 1969 to 1975, tested, filtered and bottled some of the syrup he has made so far this year.

The syrup was boiled again and then put into a cylinder to test how thick it is. If it’s the right thickness, it then is filtered and then bottled.

Residents of Onondaga County will have a number of opportunities to see how maple syrup is made in the coming weeks.

This Saturday, March 12, a special event is being held at Thornden Park in Syracuse.

Kristina Ferrare, resource educator for forestry with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, said residents can come to the park to enjoy demonstrations of how syrup is made by the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill FFA organization, which is bringing its
mobile maple exhibit to the event.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., attendees will be able to see trees being tapped with sap dripping into buckets, check out a modern tubing system for collecting sap, take a minihike across the football field to see the sugarbush of maple trees, see how a maple evaporator works and enjoy some maple goodies such as cotton candy.

There also will be activities for children and some indoor events like maple coloring books and reading the book “Sugarbush Spring.”  

“We are celebrating that passage of spring,” Ferrare said. “And it’s great that we can use a city park to show something that traditionally is a rural enterprise.”

There also is another maple presentation from noon to 2:30 p.m. March 12 at the Old Administration Building at Green Lakes State Park. 

Attendees to this free event will be able to learn about the maple syrup making process, go on a guided tree identification
hike and see different styles of taps in action and enjoy maple treats and hot beverages.

If weather conditions are poor March 12, the Green Lakes event will be Sunday, March 13.

Other events being held are during the statewide Maple Weekends March 19 and 20 and April 2 and 3. Go to
Weekend/1 to find out about Maple Weekends and find a maple producer near you that is having tours and possibly, even a pancake breakfast.  

Most recent figures for value of maple syrup production in New York:
2005: $7,037,000
2006: $8,020,000
2007: $7,638,000
2008: $13,907,000
2009: $17,820,000
2010: $12,293,000
2011: $22,052,000
2012: $15,660,000
2013: $25,026,000
2014: $21,676,000
2015: Figures will be available in June 2016
Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service


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