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Tapping Into Vermont's Maple Syrup Industry

Vermonters lead the nation in production, and it all starts with drilling a hole in a tree. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

The northeastern state of Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. This sweet, sticky liquid is a favorite on pancakes and other foods generally eaten in the morning.

The United States Department of Agriculture says Vermont produced more than one and one-half million liters of it this year. That was almost one-third of the nationwide amount and it was worth more than eleven million dollars. Other big producers include Maine and New York State.

Paul Limberty has been producing maple syrup in Vermont for ten years. The process is called sugaring. Each February, Mister Limberty and his wife, Jennifer Esser, drill holes into their sugar maple trees. They have more than one thousand sugar maples on their property in Huntington.

They collect the sap that flows from the holes, through pipelines and into tanks. Sap can flow in two directions -- up from the tree's roots or down from its branches.

The best time to collect sap is on a warm spring day after a cold night. During the spring, rising temperatures create pressure inside the tree. Sap flows out when the pressure inside the tree is greater than the atmospheric pressure.

The next step is they boil the harvested sap in a wood-fired evaporator. They use wood that they collect throughout the year when they remove dead or overcrowded trees on their property.

The boiling season generally lasts from March through April. Boiling steams away water in the sap. All that is left is maple syrup. Paul Limberty and Jennifer Esser produce four grades of it.

Vermont Grade A Fancy has a light golden color and a light maple taste. It is often made at the beginning of the boiling season.

Grade A Medium Amber is a popular choice for the table. Grade A Dark Amber has a deep golden color and a strong maple taste.

Grade B is the darkest and strongest tasting of the four. It is often made during the last days of the boiling season. Grade B is considered best for use in cooking and baked goods.

Paul Limberty and Jennifer Esser call their operation Dragonfly Sugarworks. They produced one thousand seventy-nine liters of maple syrup this year. And the price per liter is about the same for all grades -- about fourteen dollars.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jill Moss. At, you can see a picture of Paul Limberty selling his maple syrup. And to learn more about Vermont, listen next Monday at this time for THIS IS AMERICA. I'm Steve Ember.