COVID-19, weather are challenging North Country sugar houses

North Country

CHAZY, N.Y. (WFFF) – It’s the end of March and peak season for maple syrup. But this year, many North Country sugar houses are being hit hard, and not just because of COVID-19.

Marvin and Tammy Bechard, the owners of Bechard’s Sugar House in Chazy, said the weather has not been great for the tree tapper either. 

“We had, I don’t know, maybe a week where it was really good, and then we had those two 70-degree days. So what was coming in the buckets then it was just too warm and it started getting cloudy and bad so we dumped it.”

During a good season, it takes over 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup; this year, Marvin says, it could take twice that.

“Anywhere from 60 to 71 right now it’s taking to make a gallon of syrup, sugar content is very low for us. There are some that are still getting good sugar content, but a majority of the people I’ve talked to say sugar content is low.”

New York State Maple Weekend, usually held around this time of year, was cancelled this due to COVID restrictions. The Bechards said this has had a huge impact on their business. 

“The pancake breakfasts brought people in and I mean we have had phone call after phone call, so that’s really been hitting us hard,” Tammy says.

The Bechards are hopeful that next year will be better, but for now, they miss sharing their products and educating their customers. 

Sugar houses in the North Country are still open, but might be limited due to COVID-19 guidelines. 

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