Cold weather delays Wisconsin maple syrup season

  • Associated Press
  • March 12, 2014 - 9:45 AM

MANITOWOC, Wis. — Lingering cold has delayed the start of Wisconsin's maple syrup season, leaving producers who have tapped trees waiting for sap to flow.

Maple syrup producers in Two Rivers and Manitowoc trudged through cold and snow to tap trees last weekend, HTR Media reported ( ). Temperatures had warmed earlier this week, but the cold returned Wednesday.

"This week, it looks like we'll have a break in the weather pattern, so we hope to get some sap flowing. We need a unique weather pattern. We need freezing nights and sunny days," said Karl Zander, who owns a maple syrup operation with his sister, Laura Hayes-Stoeger.

The two run Zander's Maple Acres in Two Rivers with their brother, who flies in from Virginia and stays a few weeks while the sap is flowing. Hayes-Stoeger said the family's taps have started dripping — a sign that the season will start soon.

"Last year, we made 102 gallons. It was a really good year. It lasted so long ... my brother stayed 10 extra days. It just kept coming and coming," Hayes-Stoeger said.

Maple syrup producers tap hundreds, sometimes thousands, of trees each year, boiling it down to make syrup.

"Last year I collected 17,000 gallons of sap. That made 600 gallons of syrup," said Jesse Wagner, owner of Inthewoods Sugar Bush in Manitowoc. "2013 was an exceptionally good year. The season was long and the sugar content of the sap was real high."

Zander and Wagner have been in business for decades. They remain hopeful that 2014 will be as good as last year, when the state's farmers produced 265,000 gallons of syrup, the most since U.S. Department of Agriculture began tracking maple syrup production in 1992.

"There's nothing like ... that wonderful aroma of maple syrup being made," Zander said. "It becomes a part of you. That makes up for all the time when your feet are cold and wet or it's midnight and you're still cooking syrup."

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