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Warm Winter Ruins Maple Sugar Season For North Andover Farm

By Diana Perez, WBZ-TV
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A tree being tapped for maple syrup. (Photo courtesy: Diane Stern)

A tree being tapped for maple syrup. (Photo courtesy: Diane Stern)

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NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) – Maple syrup is Paul Boulanger’s passion. “Grade A medium, Grade A dark, Grade B,” he says as he lists all the varieties his small farm produces.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Rod Fritz reports.

After working a full day at their daytime jobs, he and his fiancé Kathy Gallagher spend hours collecting sap from 500 trees around their farm in North Andover and processing it right in their back yard.

Standing near a window that’s become very popular over the years he points out the samples collected since they started in 2003 and says, “every row here is a season.”

WBZ-TV’s Diana Perez reports

But the row for 2012 is empty.

Paul says syrup season peaks in March and is only a success if a few key things align. The weather has to be ideal with very cold nights and mild days plus he says there has to be enough sugar in the trees sap. “The trees need that winter to recover to convert its carbohydrates to sugars and it just never got that opportunity,” he says. “There’s just too much labor, fuel, cost going into processing.”

So production at their Turtle Lane Maple Syrup Farm has stopped, “Because we’re living off of previous year reserves we predict this will cost us $10,000 dollars.”

So what does a dry syrup season on the farm mean for their wallets? Paul says not much. He’s already vowed to not raise prices plus he says this is likely an isolated issue, “From what we’re hearing Canada, which makes 83% of all the syrup in the world, is still on track.”

The Massachusetts Maple Syrup Producers Association agrees saying most of its farmers in the northwestern part of the state, which got plenty of cold days, are doing just fine.

Still Paul says his other passion when it comes to syrup is still very much up and running, “We’re still doing tours, we’re still doing this for the community.”

It’s the couple’s second labor of love, to bring kids to their sugar house and teach them the science behind syrup.

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