Winter Weather Has Been Hard On Maple Producers

McDowell, Va – This year’s Maple festival is likely to be impacted in more ways than one by the severity of the winter. Glen Heatwole of the Sugar Tree Country store in McDowell, says cold winter conditions have not been conducive to good sugar water production. Heatwole’s syrup making has already been delayed longer than any of the previous six years he has been producing maple syrup, and repeated snows have led to conditions that have hindered the start of sugar water collection.

“The sugar lines that we started to pull out, the ones that were more than a foot under the snow, we could not bring them up out of the snow,” he said. “If there’s any ice underneath the snow, when that sugar water flows through that line under the snow, it will freeze because of ice.”

Heatwole says he probably has about 40 to 50 miles of lines to pull up out of the snow and care for. Despite the delays, Mr. Heatwole still plans to tap his trees, as soon as the weather permits.

In addition to weather delays, maple syrup producers are working against the calendar. If the sap rises by mid-March, as some almanacs suggest it will, this could have a major impact on producers. Sugar water produces Grade A light, medium and dark amber syrup, sap produces Grade B syrup.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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