Somerset County maple producers said the weather for this year's maple season left them with less syrup than usual.
"It's been a weird year," said Eric Arnold of Arnold's Sugar Camp in Rockwood.
"That warm spell in December was detrimental to the maple season," said Betty Arnold, Eric's mother.
The ideal weather for maple production is mid-40s in the daytime and mid-20s at night with gray skies, according to Jason Blocher of Milroy Farms in Salisbury.
"As long as you have lots of snow and rain, you do well. We'd sooner see that than sunny skies," he said.
This year was a bit too cold in Salisbury, he said.
"Ten to 15 degrees makes a big difference," he said.
He said he started tapping his farm during the second week of February and finished by the end of the month. He said because he has a large farm, he must plan in advance when to tap.
"The smaller producers, who have the option to completely tap in a day or two, can tap when it is just so," he said.
His farm takes between one week and 10 days to tap. His strategy is watching long-range weather forecasters and making an educated guess about the perfect tapping time.
"We need to get tapped before the weather gets here. We take an educated guess early on," he said.
This year, his farm has produced about 1,000 gallons of syrup.
"Numberwise, we are currently probably about 25 percent of an average year," he said.
Arnold's Sugar Camp, a much smaller maple farm, had similar production problems.
Betty Arnold said her farm tapped three times this year.
The first tap was in late February, which was later than usual.
"Usually, you can tap your trees any time after the 15th of January, but you may not get any water until the end of January," she said.
The difference in tapping schedules this year resulted in an unusual phenomenon.
"My son told me our first batch was what we call dark amber, but it has the flavor of light amber, which is unusual," she said.
Arnold said she has not seen this before. The sap sitting longer can cause the syrup to change color, she said.
"We're hoping to have more syrup this year because we've had so much demand. We've had people stopping by every day asking," she said.
So far this year, her farm has produced about 50 gallons of syrup.
Eric Arnold said that is about one-fourth the production of an average year. He said they are done tapping, but continued cool weather can help with their final runs.
Weather hampers syrup production