2012 Preliminary Maple Syrup Crop Report

Following a huge crop like 2011, the 2012 crop had a tough act to follow.  The winter weather was most unusual with temperatures well above average. In southern VT and NH we had only two significant snow storms with the biggest being in October.  Because of the warmth and the lack of snow, getting around in the woods was much easier.  Most sugarmakers were ready for an early season and started producing early. In the end, Mother Nature continued her abnormal behavior with above average temperatures into March. With the temperatures hitting the 70’s four days in a row the week of the 19th the season ended prematurely for us.
Last year was a record crop for many. This year, half of that amount seems to be normal which translates into about 70% of an average crop for some, less for others.  We estimate the final US production at 18,000,000 lbs compared to over 30,000,000 lbs last year. Canadian production looks to be similar. What does that mean for pricing? They will be going up. How much? That is still to be determined. It cooled down to more normal temperatures this week (week of March 26th), so some isolated regions are producing a bit more syrup. It all adds up so we’re waiting for final production numbers and costs before knowing where things will settle. The farmers’ union in Quebec increased the base of syrup price 3% and with other costs rising (what isn’t going up) we see a minimum increase of 5%.  The pricing normally settles down by late May or early June and we should have final prices at that time.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Regards,
Arnold Coombs

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2011 Maple Syrup Crop Report

Mother Nature has been very good to the maple industry for three years in a row. This year, most all maple producing regions reported higher production. The US production is the largest in 70 plus years.

The numbers below are based on government reports:

Quebec: 102,000,000 lbs.
Rest of Canada: 8,000,000 lbs.

United States: 30,734,000 lbs.
Including: % of US production
Vermont 12,540,000 lbs 40.8%
New York 6,204,000 lbs 20.2%
Maine 3,960,000 lbs 12.9%

Canadian carryover from 2010 was 19,000,000 lbs (last year’s total US/CAN production was 111,000,000 lbs).

With a Worldwide market growing to 120,000,000 lbs. we have plenty of supply.

The United States crop was great. This may be due to an increased number of trees tapped as opposed to high volume per tap but just the same, a lot of syrup was produced in the US. US farmers have been expanding rapidly due to the high prices and good ROI.

Canadian sugarmaker’s results are also strong.

The 2011 production of 140 million pounds combined with a 19 million pound hold over from last year means we have a lot of syrup. The obvious question is: Will prices go down? The quick answer, no. An overview of the maple industry may be helpful. The maple industry in the province of Quebec is controlled by the farmer’s union (The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers). Every autumn they negotiate prices with large syrup buyers, for the next spring’s crop. Last fall they raised prices a few percentage points (depending on the grade). That, combined with the falling value of the dollar vs. the Canadian dollar will push up the cost of maple syrup.

You could ask “What if I buy only US syrup?” US farmers aren’t fools and know what the going rate for syrup is in Canada and they don’t think they should sell it for anything less. Additionally, a couple of Canadian buyers come to the US and pay the going rate of Canadian syrup. They don’t necessarily need the syrup, it just sets a precedent for US pricing that is equal to Canadian pricing therefore, no advantage to the buyers on the US side.

Our farm in Alstead, NH had a good year producing nearly 263,500 lbs of organic syrup from about 67,000 trees. We would have had a little bit more but a January ice storm took about 2500 trees out of production for the year.

I’m optimistic in continued growth of the maple market Worldwide. Total units sold last year grew 6%. Bascom Family Farms is aggressively expanding markets as consumers and manufacturers Worldwide are driving up demand for pure maple. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Regards,
Arnold Coombs