BYFIELD (CBS) – Maple syrup season has begun! From backyard enthusiasts to professionals, this year is looking better than last.
“Last season I collected very few gallons. This year, on our first run, was 900 gallons in just one day,” Bernie Field, of the Field Family Sugar House, told WBZ-TV.
Riding in his 1931 Ford, he collects sap from more than 750 taps in Byfield.
“I find that the sap stays sweet when we have weather like this. If it stays warm, the sap just loses a lot of its sugar,” he said.
The maple syrup season is only about four-to-six weeks long, so collecting sap is all dependent on Mother Nature.
“If it got down to 28 at night and the next day it got up to 40 degrees, a nice sunshine without a lot of wind, it is a fantastic day!,” according to Field.
He would know. His family has been producing maple syrup in western Massachusetts for 200 years. He only started to produce his own syrup 10 years ago in the Field Family Sugar Shack in his backyard. During the season, he and his wife welcome visitors to see the process of sap becoming syrup.
“So we boil every day, we get sap. It’s kind of fun and very satisfying,” he said.
Satisfying because it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. Bernie typically produces about 150 gallons of syrup each season, but with the way this year is going he’s not shy to share he expects to produce more.
“I’m hoping for 200!,”exclaimed Field.
New England is clearly the maple syrup epicenter with more than 300 maple producers across Massachusetts but that doesn’t include backyard enthusiasts like Michael Donaruma.
“For me, because it is a small operation, I’ll only get anywhere from 25 to 30, which leaves me to about 60-to-70 ounces of syrup, so every drop is gold!,” he told WBZ.
Donaruma will collect sap through the season from the maple trees in his own yard before spending one full day boiling it down in his homemade evaporator.
“For about a hundred bucks, you can get started with a drill and a drill bit and a hammer and you are good to go,” he said.
All he needs a couple of five-gallon buckets to set up five trees, all in about ten minutes.
“After about 8 hours we’ll have maple syrup,” he said.
According to the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association, tourists spend more than $2 million during the sugaring season.
Maple weekend in Massachusetts will be held March 16 and 17 this year. For a list of participating sugar houses visit massmaple.org