Despite a warm winter, the W.Va. syrup industry grows

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Despite a warm winter, the W.Va. syrup industry grows
Maple syrup production in West Virginia continues to grow. (Photo courtesy Kobby Mendez)

A warm winter led to a decline in syrup production in West Virginia in 2021, though state Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said the industry continues to grow statewide.

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“Weather remains a key factor for how successful our maple seasons end up,” Leonhardt said of the low yield reported this week. "If it is too warm, it can severely hinder the sap’s flow, resulting in lower production levels."

But the industry shows signs of continued strength as more West Virginians invest in specialty crops, he said.

“An optimistic note is we continue to see more taps placed in trees, which will only lead to positive results for the industry.”

For the 2021 season, West Virginia produced a totaled 13,000 gallons of maple syrup— down 3,000 gallons from the previous year, according to the W.Va. Dept. of Agriculture.

The yield per tap correlated with the overall decrease in production as taps on average produced 0.169 gallons, down from the 2020 yield of 0.213 gallons per tap.

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Despite production levels falling, the total number of taps increased by 2,000 for a total of 77,000 taps.

On average, the maple syrup season opened on February 13, 2021, and closed on March 16 for an average season length of 31 days. The first date sap was collected in West Virginia was on January 12, 2021, with the last date for sap collection on April 6.

The average price per gallon for sales in 2020 was $30.20—a 27-percent decrease. Bulk prices for 2020 were $1.90 per pound, down from $2.10 per pound from the previous year.

However, the bulk price per gallon increased by $1 to $21, and bulk sales dominated the market with 83 percent of sales followed by retail sales at 11 percent and wholesale at six percent.

Maple syrup production nationally saw a decrease of 17 percent for a total of 3.42 million gallons. The number of taps totaled 13.3 million, up two percent from 2020. The yield per tap was 0.257 gallons—down 0.057 gallons from the previous season.

On average, the U.S. maple season lasted 27 days, compared with 34 days in 2020. The total value of the U.S. maple production came in at $132 million for 2020.

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