DIXFIELD — Unprecedented heat last week dashed the hopes of many a maple syrup farmer across Western Maine by turning off sap flows.

Typically, the sap season runs four to six weeks.

It lasted only two weeks for Jim Harvell of Mystic Valley Maples and Hall Farms Maple Products in East Dixfield. That means they only made half of the amount they made last year.

“Last Sunday was the last day that it ran,” Harvell said early Friday afternoon. “It didn’t run in February. So we made just over 100 gallons.”

At Hall Farms, Joanne Karkos and Caleb Hall, 13, the son of owner Rodney Hall, said 550 gallons were made. They last boiled sap on Tuesday, Caleb said.

Harvell and Karkos said that even if the cold nights and warm days required to induce sap flows return this coming week, the season’s over because the trees are budding.

Sap can still flow, but when budding starts the sap is bitter and of poor quality, Harvell said.

Despite the disappointing season, both were readying their wares for Maine Maple Sunday, which is March 25. That’s when syrup farmers around the state open their sugarhouses, enabling the public to learn how maple syrup is made.

Karkos had a crew with her helping to set up tables on Friday for Sunday’s pancake and maple sausage breakfast in their schoolhouse beside Route 2.

She said the maple sausage is from Luce’s Stand in Athens and the pancakes will be made by Theresa and Elvis Phair of Law Mountain Bakery in Wilton.

Karkos and crew were also making maple cotton candy for other sugarhouses to have on Sunday.

Last year, 550 people stopped by for the pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Harvell said Mystic Valley Maples, which is in its second year, will open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. And thanks to Rodney Hall, he said he’d have sap to boil to demonstrate the process.

But unlike last year, Harvell said the short season means he couldn’t make the lighter amber grade of syrup he made last year. Instead, this year’s is a full grade darker.

“It still tastes good if you like dark syrup like I do,” he said.

But the season’s still going for Collin Neil’s Day Mountain Maple farm in Strong.

Neil, of Farmington, a director for the Maine Maple Producers Association, said Friday was the first day the sap didn’t flow this season.

He runs a vacuum system on his taps and for the first time, sap began flowing from his tapped trees in February, he said.

“I boiled today and I’m expecting the sap to continue to run,” he said. “I’m hoping a cold night or two will start it back up again.”

Last year, he made 142 gallons. To date, he’s up to about 74 gallons.

“Up in Somerset County in the ‘Big Woods,’ where they have all the big operations, I guess they’re having a fairly decent season, so far, but if you didn’t have vacuum systems, I’d say you’re probably done the first of last week,” he said, meaning March 11 or 12.

Despite the longer season, he said he’s making darker syrup.

“It’s hard to keep the quality of the syrup up there when it’s as warm as this, but I made commercial syrup day before yesterday and I made commercial syrup today,” he said.

Day Mountain Maple will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

“My trees haven’t budded yet, so I’m waiting for some cold nights and warmer days,” Neil said. “I don’t see the season being over just yet. I’m still hopeful.”

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