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Some maple syrup producers struggle due to recent warm spell

by
A maple tree tap
A maple tree tap

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s maple syrup season ended before it began for some producers.

Gretchen Grape of the state producers’ association said the prolonged warm spell has fooled trees into opening their buds early. Once that happens, the sap turns bitter – and the tapping season ends for those trees.

Grape, who’s from Holcombe, says many of her neighbors have taken their taps out for the year. But she’s leaving hers in, with the hope that things will change.

The state held its ceremonial first-tapping 10 days ago – and that was 5 days earlier than normal. But by then, Grape said it might have been the last day of the sap-run.

Her family has only harvested enough sap to cook syrup once. Normally, they cook almost every day for 3 weeks. Some producers use vacuum systems which make it easier to tap trees when the weather doesn’t cooperate – but small producers don’t have that luxury.

Still, producer Steve Anderson of Cumberland said there should be enough syrup to go around, without a major price increase. He said last year’s season was strong, and about 30 percent of the product carried over to this year.

Wisconsin is the nation’s 4th-largest maple syrup producer. 

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