Most say this year’s production will be about the same as last year.

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) – Vermont’s maple syrup producers are giving the just completed season a passing grade.

Producers say the amount of syrup they produced was good and the quality was superb.

About two-thirds of Vermont’s syrup crop was light or medium amber, said Bruce Bascom, one of the largest buyers of Vermont syrup. He taps 50,000 trees in Alstead, N.H., and buys syrup from across New England for his packing operation.

Last year about 30 percent of Vermont’s maple syrup crop was either Grade A light amber or Grade A medium amber, said Bascom.

These are the two highest syrup categories recognized by the Vermont Department of Agriculture.

On the production side, the sap is still running up near the Canadian border and the National Agriculture Statistics Service has yet to tally this year’s crop.

At least anecdotally, however, most say this year’s total syrup production varied regionally but will be close to last year’s total.

Vermont leads all states in maple syrup production. Last year, Vermont sugarmakers made 430,000 gallons of syrup, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, slightly more than one third of the nation’s entire crop.

“My gut feeling is it’s going to turn out to be a pretty good size crop,” said Jacques Couture of Westfield, president of the Vermont Sugar Makers’ Association. “I’d hesitate to say bumper crop or record crop just yet, but definitely a good strong crop.”

But producers across the state say the quality was superb this year. “I guess the syrup is good every year, but once in a while you get a year where you just say, Wow. It’s really extra, extra good this year,”‘ Couture said.

“And this is one of them.”

AP-ES-04-23-04 1824EDT

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