Pa., NY Maple Weekends coming up over next three weekends

ULYSSES, Pa. — The frigid winter weather has not only been tough on people, but also on the region’s maple syrup producers.

An old time Maple Man once said, the best time to tap Sugar Maple trees for sap is while their feet are still cold and their arms are just getting warm. That said, maple syrup producers across Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania have been facing a freeze on production due to the cold weather. The sap is now just starting to run.

Phyllis Hamilton grew up tapping trees and boiling sap, as did her husband Larry. Hamilton has seen it all, but this year has been especially challenging. 

“Tapping isn’t going well this year because it has been so cold," she said. "We run tubing and we were able to tap about three weeks ago, but what sap that did run froze up everything when it turned cold again. We’ve just been able to start up again and today we’re boiling.”

The rule of thumb is that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. This year it is taking the Hamilton's 50 to 60 gallons of sap to produce one gallon. As for the sugar content, Phyllis Hamilton said they don’t know yet.

“Last summer was grey and rainy. Trees make sap in the summer and the sweetness depends on the sunshine,” she said.

While estimates put the sap season between six and seven weeks, the sap gathering season ends when the trees begin to bud.

Even at that, the Hamilton's say they are well stocked up for the upcoming Maple Weekend in Pennsylvania.

The 15th annual Maple Weekend, organized by the Potter-Tioga Maple Producers Association, will take place Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 4 p.m. at participating producers.

The Pa. Maple Weekend offers the chance to visit 17 different maple producers spread throughout Potter and Tioga counties, viewing different aspects and unique approaches to the methods of maple sap gathering and processing.

At some farms, visitors will see tree tapping and boiling demos. At others visitors can see modern facilities, complete with osmosis and reverse osmosis equipment in use. Each offers a unique perspective on maple syrup production — and a unique sample of syrup. But there is more than just syrup and pancakes on tap. While products vary at each location, they range from maple salad dressing or barbecue sauce, to jellies and homemade cookies, to maple milkshakes or cotton candy. Each farm has a specialty and a recipe or two that have been passed down through the family over generations.

The New York Maple Weekends take place over two weekends, March 23-24 and March 30-31 from 110 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Across the state, 157 maple farms participate in the event, by giving visitors tours of the “sugar houses” where everything is made and offering tours, samples, activities, tastings, pancake breakfasts, etc.

New York maple producers make 20 percent of all of the real maple syrup produced in the US. It is a big industry that is driven by numerous family businesses that keep the traditions of making maple syrup alive.

The closest Pennsylvania producers opening this weekend are:

Potter County

• Rathbun and Weber, 11 Mile Road, Shinglehouse

• Wending Creek Farms, 1179 Sr 49 east, Coudersport

• Hamilton’s Maple Products, 310 Gee Hill Rd, Ulysses

• Sticky Basket Maple, 1145 Parker Hill Road, Sabinsville

Tioga County

• Brookfield Maple Products, 111 Plank Road , Westfield

• Sunrise Maple Sabinsville,

• Pattersons Farms,119 Patterson Rd, Westfield

• Asaph Maple Farms 771 Glenn Road, Middlebury Center

• Triple D Maple, 14ll French Hill Road, Middlebury Center

• Millers Purely Maple, 2766 Hills Creek Road, Wellsboro

• Butler Family Maple, 282 Elkhorn Creek Road, Tioga

Pancakes Served at: Crary Hose Co., Westfield Community Building; Ossea Masonic Lodge, Wellsboro and at Hamilton's, Ulysses

Allegany, Steuben counties

• Sprague's Maple Tree Farm, 1048 Portville-Obi Road, Portville

• Kim Campbell Farm, 8904 Jackson Hill Road, Cuba

• Hint's Red Roof Maple, 3545 State Route 275, Friendship

• Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn, LLC, 4321 County Road 15A, Angelica

• Two Creeks Farm, 8516 Kyser-Byersville Road, Dansville

• Wohlschlegel's Naples Maple Farm, 8064 Coates Road, Naples

The annual Andover Lions Club Maple Festival takes place April 6-7 at Andover Central School.

State trends

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that maple producer participation in the New York State Grown & Certified program has more than tripled since last year, with more than 50 producers from across the State now taking part in the marketing program. The program increases exposure for New York's maple producers, who rank second in the nation in syrup production and generate an estimated economic impact of $141 million each year. Annual Maple Weekends scheduled for March 23-24 and March 30-31 will help spotlight the growing maple industry and boost awareness of producers in the Grown & Certified program.

"Our hard-working maple producers make some of the best products in the world and are an integral part of the State's agricultural and tourism industries," Governor Cuomo said. "With nearly 200 locations hosting events over the next month, I encourage New Yorkers and tourists alike to visit a local farm and experience first-hand this long-standing tradition and support their local economy."

To celebrate the upcoming Maple Weekends, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul participated in the first ceremonial tree-tapping of the season at Smith's Maple Farm in Boston, Erie County.

"It is always a highlight of my spring to visit farms across the state and celebrate Maple Weekends," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who participated in a maple tree-tapping event today at Smith's Maple Farm to launch the celebration. "I'm a regular at the annual pancake breakfasts this time of year to showcase all the many uses of maple syrup. I have seen firsthand how our hardworking farmers and their families have made the maple industry such a huge point of pride for our state. New York is second in the nation for maple syrup production, creating jobs and growing the economy. We will continue to invest and grow the industry to ensure continued success."

Throughout the month of March, maple farms across the state will open their doors to the public to offer tours and pancake breakfasts, sell maple products and demonstrate the syrup-making process, which includes the traditional system of hanging buckets on trees or more modern methods of production using vacuum systems to increase the yield of sap per tree. Over the next few weeks, Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball will also visit several maple farms to celebrate the success of the maple industry in New York.

Maple Weekends will take place March 23-24 and March 30-31 at more than 180 maple farms and museums across the State. Over 400,000 visitors are expected to participate in Maple Weekends activities, boosting agri-tourism across the state.

Maple Promotions

New York State Grown & Certified promotes New York's agricultural producers and growers who adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability standards.  For maple, the syrup must be sourced from New York maple trees and processed in New York State. To meet the food safety standards, participants must have successfully completed a maple food safety class, developed in partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Western New York Maple Producers Association, and must follow food safety best practices that are subject to an onsite audit.

A maple producer must also participate in an environmental management program that promotes sustainability and keeps forests healthy and productive, such as the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management program, which is administered through the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, or the Certified Tree Farmer, administered by the American Tree Farm System.

In addition, the State's Welcome Center Taste NY Markets highlight maple throughout the month of March. Markets will hold special promotions, offer maple product tastings and share information about regional maple events.  

 Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "I encourage everyone to support their local maple producer by getting out and enjoying all of the delicious maple offerings this month—from pancake breakfasts to educational tours.  Maple is the first agricultural crop of the season and we have tremendous producers who work hard at making the sweetest products.  We are proud to promote their efforts towards food safety and environmental sustainability through the NYS Grown & Certified program and to help to grow their business."

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jen Metzger said, "New York maple comes mostly from small, family-run businesses and in addition to producing a wide variety of delicious products, pure maple is a renewable sustainable resource that contributes to the preservation of forests. Maple Weekend is a beautiful time of year for the public to enjoy farm tours, demonstrations of maple sugar making processes and traditions, and of course... tastings!"

Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Donna Lupardo said, "Maple Weekend is a can't miss event in Upstate New York," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture. "Maple products are among the most popular at Taste NY stores and farmers markets across the state, and events like this give customers the chance to see how they're made. As the second largest producer in the nation, New York's maple industry is one of the driving forces behind our growing agricultural economy."

New York State Maple Weekend coordinator Keith Schiebel said, "Maple Weekend is a great family-focused, fun event the whole family can enjoy. For two weekends, our maple producers invite the public to join them on the farm to enjoy one of agriculture's sweetest products - pure New York maple syrup."

Executive Director of the New York State Maple Producers Association Helen Thomas said, "As winter ends and we recognize the coming of spring, Maple Weekend gives us the opportunity to celebrate agriculture with the harvest of the first food product harvested in the new growing season - maple syrup!  Maple producers across New York take great pride in demonstrating maple production through open house events while producing the finest maple products in the world."

Western New York Maple Producers Association President and Zimpfer's Maple Products owner and Greg Zimpfer said, "When we created Maple Weekend in Wyoming County 23 years ago, it was a local, one-day event," said Greg Zimpfer of Zimpfer Maple in Attica, the co-founder of Maple Weekend. "We never thought it would grow to be a statewide event attracting tens of thousands of families."

The maple industry hit a 74-year record in the 2018 season with the production of 806,000 gallons of maple syrup, an increase of nearly 50 percent in the last five years, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. New York's maple production constituted about 19 percent of the national total. The number of maple taps also continues to climb, with more than 2.73 million taps in production in 2018, the highest number of taps since 1943.

Governor Cuomo launched New York State Grown & Certified in 2016 to help meet the growing consumer demand for local foods grown or produced to a higher standard. The program certifies New York State producers who adhere to high food safety and environmental stewardship standards. The Department of Agriculture and Markets supports Grown & Certified producers through a marketing campaign including on-product labels, promotional materials, such as the New York State Grown & Certified website and sales materials.

Grown & Certified products can be found in farmers' markets and major retailers including Tops Friendly Markets, Price Chopper, Hannaford, Stewarts Shops, and Shop-Rite. For more information on New York State Grown & Certified, visit certified.ny.gov, or follow the program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Producers interested in learning more about how to become New York State Grown & Certified and how to qualify can contact the Department of Agriculture and Markets at (800) 554-4501 or email NYSGrownAndCertified@agriculture.ny.gov.