A small batch of sap boiled as she spoke, but Gail Tibbetts, of Raider’s Sugarhouse in South China, anticipates the right mix of cold nights and warm days will lead to bigger maple syrup runs as soon as this weekend.

More and more taps are being stuck in maple trees throughout central Maine and the rest of the state. In South China anyway, sap started running, though slowly, the week of March 7.

It’s the time of year producers with thousands of trees on interconnected collection systems and hobbyists with a few buckets on backyard maple trees start to collect sap that they boil down to become sweet maple syrup.

Bill Moulton collects wood from the bucket of his tractor Monday to feed the evaporator at his Pittston farm. The 79-year-old farmer and logger said the maple sap flow this season has been “Stop. Go. Slow. Weird.” Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Bill Moulton was feeding the evaporator at his Pittston farm on Monday. The 79-year-old farmer and logger said the sap flow this season has been: “Stop. Go. Slow. Weird.”

So far, with temperatures as cold as they’ve been in much of the state, the sap has been running slowly, and perhaps in colder areas up north, not that much at all. Temperatures are forecast to reach into the 40s and 50s this week, and as high as 60 by Friday.

The sap is running at Raider’s in South China, but slowly so far.


“Hopefully it will kick in, that’s what we’re hoping, and I think everybody else is in the same situation,” Tibbetts said.

Scott Dunn, president of Maine Maple Producers, which represents more than 250 of the 450 producers licensed to sell maple products in Maine, said rising temperatures expected this week should help kick the sap run into a faster pace.

“This week it appears it’s really going to start taking off, and make for a decent run,” said Dunn, who operates Dunn Family Maple in Buxton. “It may take the trees a day or so to smarten up. But my guess is, the way the temperatures look, we’re going to make a lot of syrup.”

Jeremiah Butler, 6, pounds a tap into a maple tree Sunday with his father, Nathan, while collecting sap at the sugar operation at their Monmouth Farm. The men have collected 50 gallons to evaporate so far this year. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Dunn said his operation has boiled sap about four times so far this season.

He said most producers put taps out sometime around Valentine’s Day in February, but don’t usually expect to make much syrup until March.

Shelley Bacon, of Bacon Farm Maple Products in Sidney, said they’ve had three or four boils there already this season, and agreed the weather is looking pretty favorable for making syrup. They started collecting about two-and-a-half weeks ago. Ideally, she said, it’d stay colder — below freezing — at night, and warm up during the day to really get the sap moving.


“The cold puts the trees back into dormant mode, that dormancy is what they want to see at night, it puts them back to sleep,” said Bacon, whose large family operation has a retail store open Mondays through Saturdays. “Sometimes, if it’s too cold (during the day), it never warms up enough for the sap to run.”

Tibbetts, who runs Raider’s with her husband Doug, said they’ve got about 1,500 taps out so far, with a few hundred more to get out, including in a new grove where they expect to expand their sap collection.

They did a boil a few days ago and had a small batch boiling Monday.

A big weekend is coming up for many maple producers,  Maine Maple Sunday is March 26 and 27, which annually draws thousands of people to check out sugarhouses and sample maple products in person.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.