MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It takes quite the process to get local maple syrup from the tree to your table. The biggest indicator of how much we’ll get to enjoy is determined by Mother Nature.

So far, maple syrup season is off to a slow start. The trees are holding onto their sap in this unseasonably warmer weather.

The Lowry Nature Center in Victoria doesn’t sell its maple syrup, but it does tap its trees and teach others about the process. On average, it collects around 700 gallons of maple sap each the season. It’s only collected 10 gallons so far this year.

“We kind of had a feeling that spring may come a little soon, and it’s really bad for maple syrup season,” said Kirk Mona, an interpretive naturalist at Lowry Nature Center.

Maple trees require a typical spring of below freezing at night and above freezing during the day to produce the sap. Since we started out the year with below average temperatures and have now been consistently above average, there’s not much output.

The collection bags have about a cup of sap each. Mona said each should have about three gallons of sugar water each day.

One gallon of maple sap cooks down to three ounces of syrup, just enough for a stack of pancakes.

While there’s not a lot of sap, what we are getting is good quality. The season will end, however, once the trees start to bud and bloom.

“Once the buds pop open, any sap you do get out tastes terrible,” Mona said. “It has a real awful flavor to it. You really wouldn’t want to make it to put on your pancakes.”

If we get some cold nights, the trees will produce more sap, prolonging the season for a few more weeks.

ThreeRivers Park District and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are holding maple syruping events over the next few weekends to teach people about tree taping and how to make maple syrup at home.

You’ll find more information here and here.

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