Official tree tapping kicks off start of what maple farms hope is sweet season

March 10, 2017 06:00 PM

THURMAN - When Randy Galusha started maple sugaring with his grandmother 45 years ago, he never thought the state agriculture commissioner and state legislators would tap his maple trees.

But here they were on Galusha's Toad Hill Farm Friday, kicking off New York's maple sugar season.

Galusha has invested a lot of money and time making his 853-acre operation state of the art.

"I love the whole process. We started out just hanging buckets on trees, boiling on a small farm in the front yard," said Galusha Friday afternoon.

He's expanded and added new equipment with a goal of tripling syrup production in the next two or three years.

And that's the trend around the state. New York set a record for maple syrup production last year, producing 700,000 gallons in 2016.

"We're number two. Vermont is number one currently, but we've got our eyes set on the prize," Said Richard Ball, New York's commissioner of agriculture.

One thing has remained constant through the changes in technology: watching the forecast.

Freezing temperatures like those forecast this weekend aren't a bad thing. In fact maple farmers say they'll take cold temperatures over record warmth every day."

Charles Wallace runs Warren County's largest maple producer, Hidden Hollow Maple Farm.

"I definitely welcome a freeze up right now," said Wallace. "It'll keep buds at a minimum. I'm fully expecting a full season."

A season that begins in earnest each of the next two weekends when families are encouraged to visit 168 upstate maple farms to learn how its made and sample sweet treats.

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Mark Mulholland

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