Maple syrup season delayed in Northeast Wisconsin

Sap is flowing at the Inthewoods Sugar Bush maple syrup operation near Manitowoc
Sap is flowing at the Inthewoods Sugar Bush maple syrup operation near Manitowoc

MANITOWOC COUNTY - The cold winter has slowed the start of the maple syrup season in Northeast Wisconsin.

Producers say the sap is just starting to flow, but many expect the season to pick up.

At the Inthewoods Sugar Bush near Manitowoc, a frozen network of plastic lines came to life Tuesday morning.

"By no means it's a gully washer, but it's starting to flow," said Jesse Wagner, Inthewoods Sugar Bush owner.

Jesse Wagner taps 1,200 maple trees on 17 acres. Wagner says cold temperatures put the season about a week behind.

"We're chomping at the bit here. We're very anxious to get going. We're sick of this cold weather, we're waiting for it to warm up so we can boil some sap," said Wagner.

Wagner says last year was his best ever.

"That was a record for us, we made about 600 gallons of syrup," said Wagner.

We did a FOX 11 Fact Check.

For 2013, syrup production totaled 3.25 million gallons nationwide. That is a 70% increase from the year before, when 1.9 million gallons were tapped.

Producers say a long winter and sweet sap made it a record year.

At Maple Acres near Mishicot, Karl Zander gathers sap the old fashioned way.

"I have 426 taps. The number of trees, I never counted, it's probably somewhere around 200," said Karl Zander, Zander's Maple Acres owner.

"Last year was a bumper crop for us; we made more syrup last year than we had in over 30 years," said Zander.

Zander tapped his 10 acres of trees almost two weeks ago. He made a small batch of syrup over the weekend, but says warm weather is key.

"You want the freeze-thaw cycle. We like mid-20s at night and upper 30s, 40s during the day," said Zander.

Right now, it's a waiting game.

"We're hoping this week that the weather is going to break, and we're going to get some more sap runs," said Zander.

"I'm not worried, I'm not nervous. It will come eventually. It will warm up," said Wagner.

Producers will be celebrating their industry this weekend with a pancake brunch in Cleveland. Click here for more information about the event.