JAY — Sap tappers across Western Maine said Thursday it has a banner year for maple syrup production.

The weather has cooperated, keeping temperatures below freezing at night and in the 40s during the day.

That and the snowpack have kept the trees from budding early, enabling sap to flow longer into the spring.

Anthony Couture of Maple Valley Farms Inc. in Jay was boiling sap from 2,000 taps all day Thursday and expected to continue into the night.

“We’re looking to be at a record year,” Couture said in the sap house. “We had a record year last year and we’re going to beat that this year, so we’re doing pretty good.”

Couture said they made about 520 gallons of syrup last year and they expect to surpass 600 gallons this year by the season’s end, which could be this weekend.

“We’ll make 25 to 30 gallons today, which is normal with this kind of weather,” he said.

“It’s late in the season to be making this much, but the weather’s just right, so we’re enjoying it. It’s a pretty rare season, for sure.”

Bruce Pierce of Newry said this year’s great sap run caught he and fellow sapper Alan Fleet of Newry by surprise after last year’s low run.

Unlike Couture, who sells syrup at the farm and locally, Pierce and Fleet run a much smaller operation from 150 taps.

They make their syrup, labeled A & B Syrup of the Upper Sunday River Valley, for friends and family, but take donations.

Last year, they made 14 gallons. This year, 35 gallons and 2 pints.

Pierce said they could have made more right through this weekend, but shut down on Tuesday because they simply ran out of firewood and containers.

“It’s been unbelievable,” he said. “There were times that we couldn’t boil the sap fast enough. It was like the perfect storm weather, I mean you had cold nights and the nice warm days.”

They started tapping near the end of February, boiled their first batch on March 15 and made plenty of light grade A amber and medium, and some dark syrup.

“I think there was a couple of days where we caught up twice. It was nuts,” he said.

“Three years ago, we started collecting in the middle of February, and we were done boiling by March 20.”

Ed Jillson, 71, owner of Jillson’s Farm and Sugarhouse in Sabattus, said they’ve made about 360 gallons so far from about 2,000 taps since their first boil on March 14. Last year, they only made 150 gallons.

“It’s the best season we’ve ever had,” he said. “Perfect weather. I’ve never seen it any better, and it looks like we’re going to go tomorrow and we’re going to pull all these buckets and then clean up.”

Last year, he said they only had about five days to boil sap. This year, it will be 16 days come Friday.

“That’s what I call a major good season,” Jillson said.

Wayne Slattery of Slattery Farm and Maple Syrup Co. in Minot said they made 872 gallons of syrup last year from 4,000 taps. As of Thursday, they’ve made about 1,400 gallons.

“It’s a banner year,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen it better.”

Their season began on March 8 and “we’re still going strong today,” he said.

“I think it will go right through to Saturday or Sunday. It’s been ideal weather.”

Slattery, who sells syrup locally and to Associated Grocers of Maine, said he got into sapping in 2000 when an AG driver wanted to upgrade and sold him a 2-foot-by-6-foot evaporator. He started with that and 200 taps.

“Eleven years later, I’m at 4,000 taps and I don’t know if I’m going to make 1,500 or 1,600 gallons of syrup this year, so it’s quite a change,” he said.

“As long as it keeps freezing at night, we’ll make syrup.”

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