HONEOYE FALLS, N.Y. (WROC) — Last year, much of the area dealt with abnormally dry conditions ranging from mild to moderate drought. From mid-May to early November 2022, Monroe county was listed as abnormally dry.
The lingering impacts of this have continued to send ripples across the agriculture community in Western New York, including to sugar shacks like the Trout Brook Sugarhouse, owned by Gregory Keyes.
“We’ve had a dry summer which was a little bit of concerning about the groundwater and the amount of water in the ground to feed the trees and of course lately we haven’t really had much of a traditional winter,” said Keyes.
Keyes has been producing syrup at Trout Brook Sugarhouse since 2002, and in many ways he says Western New York — when the weather cooperates — is the perfect place to tap into the sap
“We live in what’s called the Maple belt here in the Northeast […] there’s a lot of maple trees but a good occurrence of sugar maple trees,” said Keyes.
In recent years they’ve been fortunate with high production, nearing 200 gallons of syrup in some cases Keyes said, and while some signs point to lower numbers this year surprises can and have happened.
“I’ve always needed to be an optimist in this that it’s going to turn around and we’ve been surprised in years where we thought was not going to be ideal and ends up being ideal and then other years where we expect based on the conditions it’s going to be ideal and for some reason mother nature had a different plan,” said Keyes.
This year, maple season is opening before its normal mid-February start, at least at Trout Brook, once again thanks to our at times unusual winter. To get the sap flowing, you want nights in the 20s and highs in the 40s according to Keyes.
“So next week a little bit early is going to be according to the weather it will look like an ideal amount of sap flow so what will be doing is you know most likely we’re going to go full bore with our tapping next week,” said Keyes.
In total, it’s approximately 1,000 taps that are set to start flowing at Trout Brook next week if the forecast holds. Then Keyes said, to check back with him for a better answer about the season ahead.
To learn more about syrup production in New York, Keyes encourages everyone to check out “Maple Weekend” on March 18-19, and March 25-26, which offers visitors the opportunity to stop in at a variety of sugar houses around the state.
More information on the event can be found on the New York State Maple website.