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March 13, 2014

Weather hinders maple syrup production

Uncooperative weather has syrup producers on edge

Nobody likes freezing, cold weather in March — just when spring is approaching.

But if you’re one of the several hundred maple sugar producers across New Hampshire, daytime temperatures in the 20s can be disastrous.

The cold weather last week meant the sap wasn’t running, hindering the production of maple syrup — a Granite State tradition. Maple sugaring is one of the “603 Reasons” readers believe New Hampshire is special.

So, when temperatures fell below the freezing mark, Hank Peterson of Peterson’s Sugar House in Londonderry wasn’t happy.

“It’s been lousy,” Peterson said yesterday. “The sap hasn’t really started to flow yet. It’s just been too cold — the trees froze up.”

Brian Folsom, owner of Folsom’s Sugar House in Chester, was unhappy, too.

“We’ve been in a bit of a freeze-up,” he said. “Sap running is pretty fickle.”

But Folsom is optimistic it will be a good season.

For that to happen, syrup producers need a combination of warm days and cold nights, according to Robyn Pearl, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association.

The association represents more than 400 maple sugar producers across the state.

“It’s starting slow,” Pearl said. “We need to literally defrost the trees.”

With temperatures climbing into the 40s this week, the sap has finally started to flow, Pearl said.

It was just in time for Gov. Maggie Hassan to help celebrate the beginning of sugaring season.

Hassan stopped off at The Maple Guys farm in Lyndeborough Tuesday for the association’s annual tree tapping ceremony, Pearl said.

“We are going into a pattern right now of nice days and freezing nights,” she said.

Ideal daytime temperatures are in the mid-40s and the ideal nighttime temperature is about 28 degrees, Pearl said.

Peterson said he’s only been able to collect about 200 gallons of sap from his trees. He usually doesn’t start boiling sap to make syrup until he has at least 400 gallons.

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