2013 Was a Good Year For Wisconsin Maple Syrup

by Nancy Garduño, age 16

Pancakes taste wonderful, but they would not be as scrumptious without real maple syrup. And this year in Wisconsin, we have a lot of it.

The average maple syrup harvest season is about 28 days in Wisconsin. Tapping, the technique used to extract sap, must be done no later than April, or the syrup will spoil. Concentrating the sap of sugar maple or various other species of maple trees produces maple syrup.

Maple sap runs best when it freezes at night and then warms up above freezing point the next day, between 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperatures have a wider range, sweet-tasting maple syrup turns into green, bitter-tasting sap called buddy-flavor, and sap slows or ceases to flow.

According to Gretchen Grape, executive director of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association, “[2013 was] a perfect year. It was cold at night and it just warmed enough during the day.”

In fact, this maple syrup season was prosperous enough to collect 265,000 gallons, according to a report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Forty gallons of sap produces just one gallon of syrup. NASS has stated that since 1992, this is the highest number recorded in the state. Nationally, 3.25 million gallons were produced and Wisconsin ranked fourth. The average price producers received in 2012 was $45.60 per gallon compared to $36.30 in 2011. Grape expects the price to remain the same this year in order to make up for last year’s loss.

The only downside to this year’s harvest was the small amount of dark syrup, which only accounted for eight percent of the harvest. Dark syrup is a favorite among customers because it has the most flavor. Half of the 2013 season produced light syrup, the other half medium, and dark syrup was only produced the last day of the season.

[Source: Wisconsin State Journal]