Sugaring season has officially begun in Massachusetts.
Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, John Lebeaux, tapped the first tree of the season at Ferrindino Maple in Hampden. The Commissioner told 22News agriculture, like maple syrup harvesting, is fundamental to the western Massachusetts economy.
“There are over 1,000 workers seasonally, so there are jobs,” said Lebeaux. “There was 72,000 gallons produced last year, and $6 million worth of economic activity.”
There are more than 300 maple sugaring operations in Massachusetts.
“Almost all the producers are small, local businesses,” added State Representative Eric Lesser. “They preserve a lot of open space doing it. They preserve open woodlands that are used to tap the maple trees.”
This time of year, the nights are cold and the days are usually above freezing, making it the perfect weather to harvest maple sugar.
“You tap a tree with a small tap, a little 5/16ths hole,” said Andrew Ferrindino, the co-owner of Ferrindino Maple. “All of our trees are a big tubing system. So, all the sap goes to a big central location, all under a vacuum. It’s an old process, very simple, but with a modern flair.”
The sugaring season traditionally lasts from late February through early April.