Vermont maple production now more than half US total

by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine Vermont recorded a historic maple syrup crop this year, resulting in over 2.2 million gallons. This represents over half the official US crop and by far the most of any state. The other two big maple producers, New York and Maine, saw a slight decrease from last year, but like Vermont has seen production growing in recent years. The total US crop total also increased.

The total value of the maple crop in Vermont in 2019 (the 2020 value has not yet been established) is $57.96 million and the US value is $129.5 million. The lower relative price in Vermont versus production is because Vermont sells most of its production in bulk, which goes for a lower price. (See all USDA data table below.)

It should be noted that several of the smaller producing states have not reported their maple statistics since 2018. This includes Massachusetts and Ohio, which would have pushed volume even higher and total value to at least a similar level, based on 2018 numbers.

The 2020 United States maple syrup production totaled 4.37 million gallons, up 5 percent from the revised previous season. The number of taps totaled 13.5 million, up 1 percent from the revised 2019 total. Yield per tap was 0.324 gallon, up 0.012 gallon from the revised previous season. The earliest sap flow reported was January 2 in New York. The latest sap flow reported to open the season was February 15 in Wisconsin.

On average, the season lasted 34 days, compared with 30 days in 2019. The 2019 United States average price per gallon was $31.00, down $2.80 from 2018. Value of production, at $129 million for 2019, was down 9 percent from the 2018 season.

Maple production has increased as technology has allowed for more sap per tree and greater efficiency in the sugaring-down process into syrup.

Vacuum tubes are drawing more sap per tap. Reverse osmosis on the production side cuts time and cost by reducing the amount of water in the sap. To a lesser degree, "back yard" evaporators allow for smaller sugarers to participate in making maple syrup.

The price of maple keeps increasing. This is due both world demand and the quotas imposed by the Canadian government that limits production there to allow for higher prices. US prices then benefit by the inflated Canadian prices. The technology and price increases have made maple more profitable in recent years.

VAAFM image, Sept 2019

Quebec is by far the largest maple producer in the world and produces more maple syrup than the entire US crop. Their strict regulation has kept output lower than they would otherwise be able to produce, while keeping prices higher. However, according to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets in a report from last September, the Canadian government is allowing the expansion of production, which could produce another 5 million new taps. Canadian producers have called for loosening of regulations for many years. This has also resulted in a lucrative black market.

According to the VAAFM, Canada’s maple syrup production reached 12.5 million gallons in 2017, nearly triple that of the US, and provided 71% of the world’s pure maple syrup. However, in 2018, Canada experienced an unusually harsh winter and short spring, which decreased the harvest by 22% to 9.8 million gallons-the lowest level in three years. Production was down in nearly every maple-producing province except Ontario and Nova Scotia. Quebec produces typically about 90 percent of the Canadian crop. Ontario had an usually long season in 2018 and, as a result, saw an increase in production of 9.4% to 465,000 gallons, which was the highest the region had seen since 2011. Nova Scotia also increased production from 43,000 gallons in 2017,to 55,000 gallons in 2018.