In April, I visited Peter Thomson and Mt. Cube Sugar Farm in Orford, NH, for the last boil of the season. I filed this report for New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth.
Thomson, who is also current president of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association, has been making maple syrup since the early 1950s, when his family bought the property. (His father, Meldrim Thomson, served as New Hampshire’s governor between 1973 and 1979.)
But the maple syrup business is no longer a simple tap-and-metal-bucket operation. When Peter was younger, horses and yoked humans carried sap off the mountain; now there’s 27 miles of plastic tubing that carries the sap to the sugar shack. In those days, he would spend 10 hours boiling sap in the farm’s sugar shack to produce 8 gallons of maple syrup; today, Peter’s industrial evaporator churns out 40 gallons of maple syrup an hour.
A recent development in the maple syrup business is a new tap that reduces the backflow of sap into the maple tree, decreasing the amount of bacteria that enters the tree and increasing the sap yield of each tap. Peter used these new taps on 3,000 of his 9,000 trees this year. According to him, those 3,000 new taps yielded the same amount of sap as the 6,000 traditional taps.