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Warmer weather means maple syrup season is earlier this year

Posted at 3:51 PM, Feb 15, 2024

DE PERE (NBC 26) — We're feeling a warmer winter across Northeast Wisconsin and that means syrup makers are tapping trees earlier than usual.

  • Video shows how maple syrup tapping process is done.
  • Maple Sweet Dairy's Alicia Baroun explains how to turn tree sap into maple syrup.
  • Farmers hope this sweet temperature range sticks around so they can tap trees all month long.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

I met one tapper in De Pere who walked me through the science behind the syrup.

"What we'll do is take a spigot right here... and these are special tapping hammers and right there you hear a hollow sound so you know it's all the way in. Then the cover protects any leaves or bugs from falling into the bucket. It depends on the day and the weather so sometimes this could be full in one day, sometimes they run all night. It depends but usually takes about two days to fill one of these on average," said Alicia Baroun of Maple Sweet Dairy.

Baroun gave me an up close look of how they turn tree sap into maple goodness

Lauren asks, "Did you grow up eating a lot of maple syrup?"

Baroun says, "Oh ya. Lots. Still do!"

Crafting maple syrup is a tedious task that depends almost exclusively on temperature, and with temperatures expected to remain above normal through the end of February, the season could start and end before March

"We went out and tapped and it was about two weeks earlier than last year and that’s about a month earlier than normal," said Baroun.

Baroun says Maple Sweet Dairy has adapted to the warmer winter.

This giant contraption is an evaporator... creating steam to help heat the sap. After working its magic and heating its ideal temperature, which changes daily based on atmospheric pressure, it finally becomes syrup.

Baroun says she hopes the conditions stay the same so the trees produce sap for the rest of the season.

"We don’t want over 45 degrees for more than two days, otherwise what happens is the trees think its springtime so they'll actually start to bud," said Baroun.

Once it comes off the evaporator it’s ready to go through the filtering process and from there, bottled into traditional maple syrup or more obscure products like maple cotton candy.