Jamie Nystrom, co-owner of Bensch Mountain Maple, in Townshend, Vt., pours a little sap into some syrup to thin it before running it through the filters during the sugaring process on Monday, March 22, 2021. Credit: Kristopher Radder / The Brattleboro Reformer via AP

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Maple syrup production across the country has slowed by just under 17 percent in 2021 while in Vermont, the nation’s top maple producer, production declined by just over 21 percent, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The drop in production was due to poor sugaring weather, including a run of 70 degree days during prime sugaring season and low sugar content in tree sap. They combined to cause one of the shortest maple seasons in over a decade for producers in Vermont.

“Folks were anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of a normal crop across the board this season,” said Allison Hope, the executive director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association. “It’s a big difference for people.”

She said low sugar content is usually variable within a state, but this year producers across the country were reporting it. She didn’t have a good explanation.

The 2021 Northeast Region Maple Syrup report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service included a national production figure of 3.4 million gallons, but it only included production figures for five northeastern states, Vermont, at 1.5 million; New York, 647,000; Maine, 495,000; Pennsylvania, 165,000 and New Hampshire, 127,000.

Hope said this year’s federal statistics don’t match those that were released last year. She was seeking an explanation for the difference.

Hope said the season was cut short by a run of warm weather in late March that caused the maple trees to bud, which ended the season.

“It felt like a group of events that were conspiring against the sugaring industry this year,” she said.