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.