Maple producers hoping for sap run bonus

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 April 2013 at 12:00 am
Maple Tree Flyway Farms Medina

Photo by Tom Rivers – Flyway Farms in Medina taps about 900 trees on West Shelby Road

MEDINA – Terry Laubisch knows most local folks didn’t enjoy the freeze-thaw days in March. But for maple producers, those conditions are ideal for sap to flow.

Laubisch and other maple producers expect to cap off the season in the coming days.

He has enjoyed two sap runs so far, a two-week stretch from Feb. 27 to March 11, and then another week-long run from March 24-31.

“It’s been a good season,” Laubisch said. “Now we’re looking for the bonus.”

He thinks the 900 trees he taps on West Shelby Road will give more sap in the coming days. He’s already surpassed last year when the weather hit 80 degrees in mid-March, ending the season.

This season hasn’t been perfect. Many days never broke freezing, so the sap didn’t flow.

“Sap is like water,” Laubsich said. “It can’t move if it’s frozen.”

New York is the country’s second-leading maple producer behind only Vermont. Last year, in a down season, New York maple producers counted 360,000 gallons of syrup, down from 564,000 gallons in 2011. Western New York is home to many of the producers.

Lyle Merle taps 16,000 trees in Attica in one of the bigger operations. He said he will gladly take the cold March over the warmth a year ago.

“When the weather is cold and frozen you still have hope for more sap,” Merle said.

Last year his maple farm produced 5,800 gallons of syrup. He was at 6,500 gallons on Wednesday.

“I’m aiming for 7,000,” he said. “I think we still have a couple to three days left in the season.”