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Will Maple Season be Short and Sweet?

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By Jason Weinstein.
Under the sun - and under the gun. Mike Blachek of Sugar Creek Maple Farm in Vestal is off to a late start this maple season. The coldest February on record has kept sap from flowing through his mile-and-a-half of line until Tuesday.

"Today (Wednesday) everybody in New York State is doing the same thing. We're making our start, finally beginning to make syrup," said Blachek.

Blachek is a small retailer. He produced about 90 gallons of syrup last season. He's unsure how much he and others will make this season. Mother Nature determines the end of Maple season when temperatures get too warm, usually late March or early April according to Blachek.

"The key thing is we want to keep it cool. I know everybody wants to see 60-degree weather but maple producers do not want to see 60- and 70-degree weather until the middle of April," said Blachek.

The industry is big business for New York. The state is the country's second-leading producer of maple syrup behind Vermont. The Empire State pumped out 546,000 gallons of the sweet stuff in 2014 - totalling about 18 percent of the country's production.

"Last year we all talked about how cold and nasty it was but we actually made syrup here in the Southern Tier region in January, February, March, and April. All four months we made syrup last year because we'd get a warm spell. This year? No warm spell until two days ago," said Blachek.

Despite what could be a compressed season, Blachek does not anticipate a syrup shortage.

"Maybe for a small producer like me I might run out quicker. But the state has bulk buyers who have lots of syrup and Canada is always willing to help New York State with any shortage of syrup. I can tell you that," said Blachek.

Blachek says at the start of the season it takes about 70 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

****In Vestal, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****