MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Last year may have been a tough one for agriculture but the fluctuating temperatures of early 2020 are already helping local maple syrup producers.
The Coryea family has 2,000 taps around western Pennsylvania.
“We’ve had a few good days of runs but without a freezing night, it’s just about run its course,” Tim Coryea said.
Temperatures in the 40s are OK as long as a freezing night eventually breaks it up.
The Coryeas do not use buckets to collect the sap. They say it’s too expensive and too much work. Instead, they run food-grade lines between trees and use gravity to collect about 500 gallons a day.
“I would have to say we might be a little above average,” Tim said. “Thus far, the weather has been really good because we have not been getting any really, really warm days since we tapped.”
The sap comes out of the roots and flows when it gets warm and gases push it out. Syrup production is only taking a small amount from the tree and not hurting it.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
“Our quality has been very good. We’re making a really nice grade syrup, perfect table grade,” Tim said.
Sap comes out of the tree as 2% sugar. The USDA says it has to be 66.5%, so the water is boiled off to raise the sugar content.
“But any nutrients that are in the tree and the sap will stay in the syrup throughout the cooking process, too,” Tim said.
Haleigh Coryea bakes and cooks with real maple flavoring. The family doesn’t just bottle syrup — they make maple barbecue sauce, maple mustard and maple cotton candy, too.
The Coryeas make 400 to 600 gallons of syrup products a year. The syrup will keep running until the trees bud.