AUGUSTA, Maine -- Governor Paul LePage tapped a maple tree on the Blaine House lawn today to mark the beginning of maple season.
He says Maine has the resources to dominate the industry. But unseasonably cold weather has delayed the start of the season, leaving maple farmers uncertain about how much syrup they will actually be able to produce this year.
"We are hoping for a gradual warm-up," said Mark Cooper, owner of Coopers Royal Heritage Farm.
That is because once the trees start budding, the sap stops flowing. The harvest season generally begins late February to early March. The last few years the winter has been warm enough to begin in early February. This year, the cold temperatures are preventing the farmers from tapping the trees because they are frozen.
Cooper said his 1700 taps usually produce about 400 gallons of syrup. He is hoping for he will get close to that, even though he hasn't tapped any trees yet.
The USDA ranks Maine as the third largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. Governor LePage says Maine should be number one.
"This is an industry that Maine could be leading America, and we have the trees and the resource," LePage said. "It's a matter of getting more people involved."
The tree tapping was held in anticipation of Maine Maple Sunday, which is happening across the state on March 23rd. For more information, click here.