DE PERE (NBC 26) — From sap to the final product, it takes ideal weather conditions to produce maple syrup. But this year, Mother Nature hasn’t been on sugar maker’s side.
"This has been a very slow start," said Theresa Baroun, the co-owner of Maple Sweet Dairy & Maple Buzz in De Pere. "We started tapping at the end of February. We've only boiled down twice. Normally at this time we're getting toward the end of our season."
The ideal conditions for collecting sap from maple trees is below freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day. But due to fluctuating temperatures and an unusually cold March, the season has gotten off to a late start.
“We’re probably a quarter of what our normal crop is for the year and that’s the same throughout the state of Wisconsin,” Baroun said.
Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve in Suamico also produces maple syrup, mainly for educational purposes. Jason Petrella, the program and natural resource manager, says the preserve has also had trouble collecting sap this year.
“We really haven’t gotten a lot of sap yet," Petrella said. "I think the big reason for that is that there’s so much frost on the ground. The ground is so frozen, we had some warm days but then it got really cold.”
The late start to the season means there is less time for syrup producers to collect the sap before the trees start budding in spring. While a normal season would last about a month, this season could be as short as two weeks.
"In late March buds will get bigger on the trees, not as much sap comes out, it starts cooking at a different flavor, color, and that's when syrup season's over," Petrella said. "My guess is probably by late next week, so early April, it's going to be done."
In addition, Baroun says consumers may begin to see price hikes later this year.
“The jars have gone up twice as much in price, equipment has doubled in price so to a consumer the price will go up,” Baroun said.
However, she says she's still hopeful the season will turn around.
"We’re hoping and everybody throughout the state is hoping that the weather’s going to start working for us,” Baroun said.