Coming out of Spring freeze
After a long, cold Vermont winter, the sight of tiny green crocuses peeking through the melting snow is a true sign that spring has arrived. Though the longer days and milder temperatures are welcomed, the thawing also brings with it mud, and lots of it! The once frozen dirt roads are transformed into a muddy mess filled with deep ruts and the occasional car stuck up to its axles. It’s why spring is Vermont’s least popular season. However, it is one of the most important as it directly affects our maple syrup production (sugaring season), apple harvest, and fall foliage.
Sugaring season is the time of year when sugar maple trees are tapped for sap to boil down into maple syrup and typically begins in late February and lasts to early April. As daytime temperatures warm above freezing, the maple sap begins to run. If spring arrives late and the temperatures remain below freezing, the sap runs slowly or not at all. Conversely, if spring arrives early and temperatures warm up too fast, it causes the trees to bud prematurely and the sap to turn bitter. Either way, sugaring season is cut short and less maple syrup is produced.
The same is true for the apple harvest. A spring freeze can cause irreparable harm to the apple blossoms, resulting in a lower yield come fall. Also, if conditions in spring are cool and wet, it can deter honeybees from pollinating the blossoms, leading to the trees producing little to no fruit.
When it comes to the fall foliage, spring is no less impactful. Warm, wet conditions are needed in spring to achieve those blazing reds, fiery oranges, and bright yellows. The lack of rain can stunt the development of the leaves, causing them to drop before they can change color in fall.
So, while spring may not be Vermont’s most beloved season, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Especially if you’re like us and love to pick apples, admire the colorful foliage, or pour lots of Vermont maple syrup over a stack of johnnycakes.
Gardner, Cabot, Eliot, Lyman Orton
Proprietors of The Vermont Country Store