N.H. maple syrup production stays steady amid change in climate

Monitor staff
Published: 6/17/2017 10:56:47 PM

New Hampshire’s maple syrup production was pretty good in 2017, despite a weird season that saw a very early start – Jan. 7 in New Hampshire and as early as Jan. 1 in Vermont – followed by a pause in February and then cold weather that stayed around unusually long.

Overall, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, New Hampshire producers placed 550,000 taps in trees that produced 154,000 gallons of syrup, slightly below 2016’s near-record output, but just the same as in 2015.

The report, produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reflects the way maple syrup is a very small industry in terms of dollars sales. Although data for sales are not available this year, in 2016 total sales of maple syrup in the state were just $9.33 million.

But the indirect economic effect of the industry on travel and tourism is enormous, as reflected by the state’s push behind the annual Maple Syrup weekend, as well as a request last week by the state’s federal office-holders.

The state’s U.S. senators and representatives joined colleagues from a half-dozen syrup-producing states to urge funding for the Acer Access and Development Program, which has been cut in a proposed budget from President Donald Trump.

They said the program helps maple syrup producers increase production and compete in the global maple syrup economy.

Maple syrup “is also a critical conservation crop, which helps to keep our forests in production, conserves important lands, protects water quality and provides a valuable economic benefit to rural communities,” the lawmakers wrote.

New Hampshire is a middling player in America’s maple syrup industry. Our 2017 output of 154,000 gallons was dwarfed by Vermont, which produced 1.98 million gallons or 13 times as much as the Granite State, as well as by New York state (760,000 gallons) and Maine (709,000 gallons).

In 2017, Wisconsin produced 200,000 gallons, or about one-third more than New Hampshire, while Pennsylvania produced almost as much syrup as us.

However, all U.S. states combined are dwarfed by the Canadian province of Quebec, which produces about two-thirds of all the world’s syrup. The province has a government-run syrup bank that effectively controls the world’s prices, particularly for darker strains used in such things as candy-making.

Last year was a banner year for maple syrup: U.S. production of 4.2 million gallons was the most since record-keeping began in 1916, and Canada’s production was also a record.

The average price per New Hampshire gallon was $55.40 last year.

It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup, although that figure fluctuates during the season – it is usually less in the beginning, when sugar content is higher. On average, the sugar content of maple sap in New Hampshire has been declining in recent years due to changes in the climate.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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