Maple syrup producers see sweet success after rough start - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Maple syrup producers see sweet success after rough start to season

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Dunn County (WQOW) - There's no doubt that many of us are tired of winter weather. But for maple syrup producers, the slow warm up has been a blessing. It has helped turn a poor season into a syrup celebration.

"At the beginning of the season, we were all standing around wondering if we'd even have a season. It took so long to develop, and now it turned out to be a good average season or even a little bit better the way things are looking," said Todd Thompson, owner of Knapp Hills Sugarbush.

Sap usually starts to run around mid-March. But a long winter forced a late start to the spring syrup season.

"Early season, we were sitting at about 6,000 gallons of sap, which is way under what we should be. Right now, last I checked the meter was around 120,000 gallons of maple sap. Typically on a normal year we were thinking we'd be in that 100,000 range, so we're sitting pretty good right now," Thompson said.

So why is sap suddenly filling these bags to the brim?

"It was almost too cold, where we weren't getting warm enough days. Last week, the third week in April, happened to be where we got some nice thawing days. We had about a five day span where it really took off," explained Thompson.

Now that the sap has finally started to fill up tanks, it's time to take the raw material and turn it into a finished product.

"We're at 22 days of boiling this season. Last year in 2012 we had seven days of cooking," Thompson said.

And all that cooking means there will eventually be a surplus of syrup on the market; so some of this year's yield will be stored for later.

"Early season we thought there was going to be kind of a shortage, well let's make sure we hold enough now so we've got enough for the next season in case it's a bad year next year. You can't count on the weather all the time. It's unpredictable," said Thompson.

So how bad was last year's maple syrup production? According to the USDA, just less than 2 million gallons were produced nationwide in 2012. That's roughly 30% less than in 2011.

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