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Maple syrup harvest taps out amid warm weather
High temperatures cut season in half as gallons produced plummet
Typically around this time of year, Dave Peterson would be in the middle of collecting from the maple syrup taps in roughly 600 trees in Maplewood Gardens in Elderon.
This year, the popular supplier of food to places such as Christian’s Bistro, Emy J’s and Family Natural Foods likely tapped his last maple for the season last week.
The recent warm weather might be good for early season crops, but for those who make maple syrup, the season already reached its peak.
“It’s pretty much done,” said maple syrup producer Larry Eisentraut.
The 58-year-old Waupaca resident said he typically brings in between 80 and 120 gallons per year. This season, he’s expecting 35 gallons at most.
Eisentraut said he generally starts putting taps in the trees at about March 1, and the season would run for about three to four weeks. This year, that’s been cut in half.
Harvesting maple syrup requires alternating subfreezing and thawing temperatures to continue the sap flow.
Peterson said he’s never seen a season like this in the 40 years he’s been harvesting.
The weather will cost him this year — ordinarily, he would produce about 200 gallons of syrup in a season, worth about $10,000. This year, he’ll have 50 gallons, worth only $2,500.
He said maple syrup is a fourth of his yearly business.
“My garden is subsidized by maple syrup,” Peterson said.
Sweetness levels vary from year to year, Eisentraut said. This year, he said the sweetness was low, meaning it takes more sap to make the same amount of syrup.
“It takes more gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup,” Eisentraut said. “You get a double whammy.”