Maple Syrup Season Will Start Late After Bitterly Cold Winter

Producers Say Warm Days, Cold Nights Necessary For Sap To Begin Flowing

Sap drips from a sugar maple tap
Sap drops form on the end of a sugar maple tap in 2010. Photo: Wisconsin DNR (CC-BY-ND)

Wisconsin’s maple syrup producers say that this year’s harvest will have to wait until early April.

The harsh winter has caused a delay in the season. Tree tappers say they need relatively warm days and cold nights before the sap starts flowing.

“We’re getting our first trickle of sap coming through, but not letting go just yet,” said Bree Breckle, co-owner of B & E trees in Cashton. She says the deep freeze has affected maple trees to the point where sap won’t run.

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Allan Herrmann is the president of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association. His “sugarbush” of trees is in Colby. Herrmann says it’s all right to tap trees now, but that conditions need to improve before the sap comes out. He says it’s not that unusual to have to wait until April for that to happen.

“The old timers who were making it 40 or 50 years ago, they always used to tell me that what you made in March was a bonus; you made your real syrup in April,” Herrmann said. “I never really believed them back then, but last year and this year it looks like they were right.”

Herrmann straps on snow shoes to tap his 2,000 maple trees.

Bree Breckel has also found this year to be a challenge. “[We’re] just getting really excited to get it started. We’re just starting to see a little movement right now,” she said. “Can’t wait to get into the sugar shack and start making syrup.”

The Maple Syrup Producers’ Association estimates that Wisconsin produces 265,000 gallons of maple syrup each year.

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