SPARTANSBURG — Award-winning maple syrup producer Dennis Northrop of Spartansburg said the sweetest season of the year isn’t over until it’s over.
The maple syrup season, that is.
“We’re still making it,” Northrop said about the maple syrup he produces at his brother Phil’s sugar shack on Sundback Road. “It could last another two weeks.”
Under perfect conditions, Northrops produce about 1,000 gallons of the lip-smackin’ syrup made from the sap that flows from the maple trees.
In a good year, you can make almost a half-gallon of maple syrup from the sap that flows from one tap, Northrop said.
Northrop uses about 2,500 taps to draw the sap, with some trees having two taps.
“We’ve got about 400 gallons so far,” Northrop said today.
Northrop, whose 2007 confection was judged best in show at the 2008 Pennsylvania State Farm show, said the weather hasn’t resulted in a bad season so far.
“It hasn’t been too bad a season,” said Northrop about the maple-producing season, which traditionally begins in February.
But ideally, cold nights and warm days help sap flow freely.
This year, Northrop said, the sap is weak. And that determines the grade of maple syrup that will be produced.
“This year it’s a weak sap, so you make a darker grade,” Northrop said. “It’ll be a dark amber, or B grade. It tastes good. It’s just darker.”
Northrop also said how the sap flows depends on location.
“It depends on where your woods is at,” Northrop said. “Mine might flow freely, but someone else’s might not.”
And for as much snow as we had this past winter, it didn’t stay long enough to help the flow of the sap.
“It takes cold and snow,” Northrop said. “The snow disappeared.”
For some, the deep snow prevented the trees from being tapped early enough.
“The season started too late,” Northrop said. “Too much snow made it later.”
Northrop added that if the buds are out on the trees, tree-tapping time should be over with for the season.
“The sap will have a ‘buddy’ taste,” Northrop said.
Northrop, 66, has been producing maple syrup for about 50 years.
“When I was 16, I used to help my brothers with it,” said Northrop, who produced the syrup with his brothers, Willis and Gaylord, in addition to Phil.