JAY — Maine Maple Sunday returns to Maple Valley Farms in Jay from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  March 23.

So far this season, the sap run has been brought nearly to a standstill because of unseasonably cold weather, said Maple Valley Farm owner Tony Couture.

“It’s froze up. It’s just not warm enough,” he said. “This has been quite a winter. It reminds me of the old-fashioned winters in the 60s and 70s.”

Last year by this time, Couture had made 70-80 gallons of syrup. This year, the total is a paltry five and one half thus far. Couture remarked that he thought the season would extend well into April.

In most year’s, the sap run lasts four to six weeks. Temperatures in the 40’s during the daytime and 20’s at night work best for the sap to run at peak flow.

Early in the season, noted Couture, the sap tends to be light in color.

“As it starts warming up, it goes to a darker kind,” he said.

The darker color is indicative of a high mineral content in the syrup.

At Maple Valley Farms on Maine Maple Sunday, people can tour the network of trees that have been tapped. As of press time Tuesday, Couture had tapped 2,230, but he said the potential was there to tap 3,000.

Tubes run from the trees and the sap is vacuum fed to the sap house. Once there, it is collected and boiled in an enormous stainless steel machine that is a sight to behold.

“Everything’s pretty much automated now,” said Couture.

He said his biggest tasks are cleaning the machine, and bottling the syrup.

There will be syrup, and maple candy for sale on Maine Maple Sunday. The Couture’s will also provide taffy on snow, and ice cream with maple syrup. There will be four quarts of maple syrup given out as door prizes in a raffle.

Boothby’s Sugar Shack in Livermore will also be hosting Maine Maple Sunday. It will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Owner Rob Boothby noted this is the fourth year he has held it.

There will be a pottery demonstration, and food served such as corn chowder and biscuits. Maple syrup will be for sale. There will also be a wine tasting featuring some of Boothby’s recently made wine.

Boothby said that while he has put in 50 taps so far, he hasn’t been able to make any syrup because of the cold weather.

“It hasn’t been running worth a hoot,” he summarized.

Boothby said that the season generally begins when daytime temperatures get above freezing, and ends when the snow melts in April. With a snowstorm predicted for Wednesday night and Thursday of this week, and above average precipitation in the long range forecast, it looks as though the snow will be sticking around awhile.

To get to Maple Valley Farms, take Route 133 from Livermore Falls or Farmington. It is located about three quarters of a mile south of Bean’s Corner on Route 133. To get to Boothby’s, take Boothby Road from Route 4 in Livermore and travel three miles, until you see the sugar shack on your left.


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