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Record-Breaking Year Brings Sweet Smiles for MN Syrup Producers



Sapsucker Farms

Despite what some consider an excruciatingly long winter, followed by a cold and snowy spring, Maple syrup producers in Minnesota are smiling. It’s no wonder—most of them produced record levels of syrup this spring.

Minnesota is the most north and west of U.S. states to commercially produce maple syrup, according to Jerry Jacobson, vice president of the MN Maple Syrup Producers Association. The association boasts about 100 members, many of whom attended the annual MN Maple Producers Association Annual Meeting and reported record years for 2013.

“At the meeting, everybody said they did better and many reported record crops. About 80% at the meeting said it was their best year ever,” said Jacobson.

The mystifying weather accounts for the record year, he says. “The late spring, combined with all the snow we had, meant temperatures were moderated so that the trees didn’t warm up too quickly.”

Maple syrup is made from sap, and producers need about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Throughout Minnesota, trees produced high levels of sap during the three-week sap run this year, and the sap they produced was good quality, according to Jacobson. In neighboring Wisconsin, producers reported record-breaking levels as well.

“Wisconsin’s 2013 maple syrup production was 265,000 gallons, more than five times the production of 2012,” said Greg Bussler with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (PDF). “This is the highest production since NASS began keeping track in 1992.”

Debbie Morrison at Sapsucker Farms in Mora, Minn. was a bit anxious about this year’s season, especially after last year's drought, which yielded just 10 gallons of syrup. But Sapsucker ended up making 210 gallons of syrup, matching their all-time previous record.

“For about two weeks, the sap was just gushing,” said Morrison. “We were doing everything we could to collect it and cook it. It gushed, and gushed, and gushed for about two weeks. The sap was so beautiful and pristine this year. It was the best sap we’ve had. It made amazing, light syrup.”

Jacobson said that at least 60% of syrup entered for judging at the Annual Meeting of the MN Maple Producers Association was grade A, light amber, the highest quality in maple syrup ranking.

But could there be too much of a good thing? Jacobson and Morrison both assured me that producers won’t have any trouble selling their syrup.

“In Minnesota, most syrup producers sell out of everything they make, which is about 20-30,000 gallons annually,” said Jacobson.

Morrison echoed that sentiment, saying, “We’re pretty sure that we’ll be able to sell it all.”

Grade A, light amber syrup is sometimes called “fancy” syrup, and it’s highly sought after by in-the-know syrup fans. Available at local co-ops, farmers' markets, and specialty shops around the state, look for a bottle of maple syrup made in Minnesota, and top your flapjacks with some record-breaking syrup this summer!

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