Maple syrup producers tapped out after warm winter

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

CADOTT, Wis. (WEAU) -- The warm weather is causing a sticky situation for local maple syrup producers who rely on cool spring temperatures to draw the sap from maple trees.

WEAU 13 News was in Cadott on Sunday, where a sap producer said it has been the worst year in decades.

The Roth family has been operating the Roth Sugarbush since 1956, taking sap from maple trees each spring and turning it into maple syrup.

“This year is a rare year. This is probably the worst year in the last 40 years,” said owner Peter Roth.

Roth said ideal conditions for drawing sap is 40-50 degrees during the day and in the 20s at night.

He said the harvest often starts in February and sometimes lasts until May.

“We just can't go 80 during the day and 55 at night,” Roth said.

But with our weather going from winter to summer-like temperatures in a matter of weeks, Roth said it’s times up.

“If you look at the trees now, there are leaves budding; that will kill it. So we're done today. We finished,” Roth said.

Roth said so far this year, they’ve produced just 25 percent of a typical harvest.

And because of the lack of sap, the price of maple syrup could go up.

“Some of the smaller producers may be short of syrup this year.
You'll see it more at a farmer's market and that type of situation where it's a local producer,” Roth said.

Thanks to a surplus from last year and advancements in sap-sucking technology, Roth said the Sugarbush should break even.

“You have to take the good years with the bad, there's nothing you can do about it. No one has a magic wand that's going to tell you what you're going to get,” Roth said.

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  • by Anonymous Location: chippewa on Mar 27, 2012 at 09:53 AM
    Last year was a record for the amount of snow on the ground at sapping time. This made it extremely difficult for the old guys like us that have to carry and empty 100 pails everyday. This year, after taking one look at the weather forcast I decided it wouldn't even be worth my time. The sap only ran good for 4 days in my little maple grove. Expect maple syrup prices to be very high this year.
  • by Louis on Mar 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM
    We have been making it for over 35 yrs and been keeping records for 25 and our lowest total before has been 90 qts. and this yr we have 12 and it doesn't look good for anymore. It is just 3 of us and we tap about 200 trees and do it mostly the old fashion way with buckets and a sugar shack in the woods.
  • by anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Mar 19, 2012 at 05:33 AM
    After having real maple syrup, I can barely bring myself to buy the factory made so called 'syrup.'
  • by ECer on Mar 18, 2012 at 09:44 PM
    That's a shame. But remember, last year was a record year for maple syrup production.
    • reply
      by Sugar Maker on Mar 19, 2012 at 09:53 AM in reply to ECer
      Last year was better, but not a record, for Wisconsin production. Overall, we're seeing more bad sugaring years like this one, thanks to climate change.
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