NEWBURGH, Maine — Sugarhouses from as far north as Eagle Lake and as far south as Wells opened their doors for this year’s Maple Sunday, although some of them hosted events shortly before the traditional fourth Sunday in March, which this year coincided with Easter.
An interactive map put together by the Maine Maple Producers Association listed 97 locations that were open to families in search of sweet treats or who wanted to see first-hand how maple syrup and related products are made.
This year’s maple season got off to an early start because of the unusually mild weather, according to producers from around the state.
Although the 2016 maple production is still underway, last year Maine produced 553,000 gallons of syrup — 16 percent of the nation’s total, with the third highest output in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Last year’s season was deemed “mostly favorable” by the USDA, which noted that the 2015 season was on average four days shorter in the northeast because of colder temperatures.
John Bott, spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said late last week the 2016 appears to be off to a good start.
“We have reports, anecdotal and otherwise, that it appears to be shaping up to be a good season,” he said. “Certainly better than last year.
That Maple Sunday fell on Easter this year, which Bott said occurs about every six years or so, “has been getting some attention, but I think what’s happened is that we have a lot of houses that were going to open on Saturday and Sunday,” Bott said.
Maple Sunday “is picking up in notoriety every year. People are learning more and more about it and are starting to look forward to it,” he said, adding that longer hours for some Maple Sunday events are making it possible for families to enjoy both the state tradition and the Easter holiday.