syrup producer Mike Jacque taps a tree March 26, 2013 in his
sugar bush near Thorp, Wis. Wisconsin's maple syrup
production has hit a 20-year high, increasing five-fold from
last year when early warm weather cut the season short, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday, June 17,
Wisconsin's maple syrup production has hit a 20-year high,
increasing five-fold from last year when early warm weather cut
the season short, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported
farmers produced 265,000 gallons of syrup this year, compared to
50,000 gallons in 2012 and 155,000 in 2011. It was the most since
the agency began tracking maple syrup production in 1992.
The key to this
year's production boost was cool weather that extended late into
spring. Sap runs when the nights are below freezing and the days
are above, said Greg Bussler, spokesman for USDA's National
Agricultural Statistics Service office in Wisconsin. The average
run this year in the state was 29 days, compared to 19 last year.
maple syrup production hit a record 3.25 million gallons this
year, up from 1.91 million last year and 2.79 million in 2011,
according to the USDA. Vermont is the nation's top syrup producer,
followed by New York, Maine and Wisconsin.
family stopped collecting syrup after nine days last year at
Stoney Acres Farm near Athens in central Wisconsin. This year, the
sap ran for about a month.
The farm's maple
syrup operation, overseen by her father-in-law Ed Schultz,
produced just over 700 gallons of syrup, the most since Schultz
bought the farm in the 1970s. Last year, they got about 165
gallons from their 2,500 trees.
is the best year ever. Last year was the worst year ever,"
said Becker, 33.
The past four
years have included two of the farm's best years and two of its
worst, she said. With extreme weather becoming more frequent, the
farm is holding on to 10 percent of this year's syrup in
anticipation that next year could be bad.
drop of maple sap fall from a tree March 26, 2013 in a sugar
bush near Thorp, Wis. Wisconsin's maple syrup production has
hit a 20-year high, increasing five-fold from last year when
early warm weather cut the season short, the U.S. Department
of Agriculture reported Monday, June 17, 2013.
Along with the
long season, this year was notable for the high sugar content in
sap. In Wisconsin, it took only 34 gallons of sap to make a gallon
of syrup, down from 44 gallons last year, the USDA said.
Mike Jacque, 46,
could see the difference at his farm in Thorp, also in central
Wisconsin. His sap is usually about 2 percent sugar, but this
year, it was nearly 3 percent. That jump means that instead of
needing about 43 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, he
needed only about 30.
With a four-week
season, he was able to make more than 800 gallons of syrup.
was ideal," said Jacque, who taps 1,800 trees. "It was a
long, steady flow."
The maple syrup
season typically runs from the end of March to the end of April in
Wisconsin. This year, it began in some areas on Feb. 15 and didn't
end in others until May 28.
Jacque said he
had some concerns early on because the temperature was dropping
into the single digits at night and only briefly reaching the
upper 30s in the afternoon. But then it warmed up to perfect
conditions, which Jacque described as a nighttime temperature of
around 32 degrees, before warming to 38 to 40 degrees by 10 a.m.
so there's a long flow during the day.
Becker said the
cooler temperatures also remedied quality issues her family
struggled with last year. Bacteria multiply quickly in sap in warm
weather, she said, and the trees' changing chemistry can affect
the syrup's color and taste.
Two years ago,
her family's syrup had a remarkable vanilla flavor that will
likely be impossible to replicate, she said. But this year, she
said, "has very, very nice flavor. I'd say not quite as good
as two years ago, but very nice vanilla undertones."
retail price for a gallon of syrup in Wisconsin last year was
$44.60, the USDA said. It did not provide a figure for this year.