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Mass., NH Celebrate Annual Maple Weekend

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NATICK (CBS/AP)- New England’s maple syrup producers are opening their farms and sugar houses to the public for an annual Maple Weekend.

Massachusetts Maple Producers Association promoted events Saturday amid an uncertain season.

Colder than normal temperatures have made it difficult to collect maple sap. Once a maple tree is tapped, there’s usually about a six-week window of time where the hole is viable. Below-freezing nights followed by warm days are necessary to start the sap flowing, a period that usually begins in late February or early March.

Natick Community Organic Farm started their season on March 11 – a full two weeks behind average years. With a winter storm predicted for this coming week, it’s possible they’ll collect very little or no sap.

“This and making honey, or the bees, those are the two projects in agriculture I feel I can’t manipulate in any way,” said Lynda Simkins. “So it is what it is, and I get what I get.”

Some years, Simkins can get hundreds of gallons of maple syrup. So far this year, they’ve only boiled out 127 gallons. She says the key to keeping Natick’s non-profit education center viable is to diversify.

“We roll with the punches. There’s always other things to do,” said Simkins. “We’re birthing animals and our greenhouses are full. It’s not like this is our only enterprise.”

In the Granite State, more than 100 members of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association are participating in events Saturday and Sunday.

They’ll explain how their operations work and offer free samples of syrup, along with other treats ranging from maple-glazed doughnuts to coffee brewed with sap. Some locations let children help collect sap, and others have pancake breakfasts, petting farms and horse-drawn hayrides.

Last year, New Hampshire produced 124,000 gallons of syrup.

WBZ-TV’s Bree Sison contributed to this report.  You can follow her on Twitter @BreeSison.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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