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The sugaring season has been over for a while. Maple trees ended their annual period of dormancy when their winter buds broke, allowing new leaves to emerge. These lush green leaves are now working to produce all the energy needed for the tree to grow and survive. Photosynthesis is the complex series of chemical reactions that combine, water, carbon dioxide and sunlight to produce energy in the form of glucose. The maple tree, like all green plants, produces this sugar to satisfy its immediate needs such as feeding living cells and growth but also to store for future needs such as winter dormancy, seed production and defense from disease. Trees convert the sugar to starch for long term storage with the help of enzymes and convert it back when needed. A portion of this same stored energy is what sugar makers collect in sap each year. When growing conditions are favorable, maples will produce an abundance of stored energy and likewise, those stores will be reduced when trees don't have adequate water or have limited exposure to sunlight. Most years maple trees in Vermont are healthy but when one or more stresses impact an individual, dieback and decline can occur.