Maple syrup production in Ohio diminished by sudden arrival of spring

COLUMBUS (WCMH)–For the second year in a row, maple syrup producers have had to work around extreme winter weather.

Last year a frigid February 2015 delayed the start time when sap usually starts running–around February 20–until the first week of March. The result was about a 30 percent decrease in maple syrup production, compared to previous years.

This season started well in January and February but has come to a sudden halt a few weeks earlier than usual, with temperatures rising into the 60s.

Mike Roth, who maintains taps on 240 trees at the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware County, said, “Warm days, cold nights–that’s what makes sap flow.” But the problem is timing.

“It’s getting so warm so quickly, the trees are starting to bud. When that happens, the trees still have sap, but it’s not good sap for syrup.”

Mark Erlsten, owner of Erlsten Brothers’ Maple Products in Mount Gilead, said, “Last season we started making maple syrup on March 10. This season finished making maple syrup on March 10. Every season is different. This will be a fair season for syrup in Ohio.”

Prior to the early March warm spell, the sap was flowing and prospects looked good, provided that maple syrup producers took advantage of the February run.

The tasty brown syrup is boiled down from a transparent sap collected from trees, either in buckets or by vacuum hoses.

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