US maple syrup production up despite shorter season

U.S. maple syrup production increased slightly this year, even though the sap-collecting season was shorter than last year's, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The country produced 4.2 million gallons (16 million liters) of the pancake topper, up 1% from 2018.

Vermont, the country's leading producer, made more than 2 million gallons (7.6 million liters).

New York, which yielded 820,000 gallons (3.1 million liters), followed, according to the data released this week. Then came Maine with 580,000 gallons (2.2 million liters) and Wisconsin with 270,000 gallons (1 million liters). Michigan ended up with 195,000 gallons (738,155 liters) and Pennsylvania produced 157,000 gallons (594,310 liters). New Hampshire, the only state in the available data to see a decline in production, yielded 148,000 gallons (560,241 liters). Total production numbers were not available for some other maple-producing states.

The maple season requires warm days and nights below freezing for the sap to flow in maple trees. The sap is then boiled into syrup. This year's season lasted an average of 30 days in the syrup-producing states, compared with 42 days in 2018, the USDA said.

In Vermont, the season started later than in recent years, worrying some producers that it would be too short. But the state ended up producing more syrup than in 2018. It also had 330,000 more taps in trees this year for a total of 6 million taps that helped to draw more sap.

Amanda Voyer, executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, said she was even shocked by the amount produced. A number of sugar makers reported one or two record-breaking days of sap flow, she said.

"You can have one day where it's trickling sap or you can have one day where it's coming out gangbusters," she said. "There just happened to be some really solid days."