Sweet Start To Michigan's Maple Syrup Season

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You might not realize it, but this weekend's forecast could make or break your breakfast.

It's the weather maple syrup makers have been waiting for since last year.

The president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association said he's feeling a lot better about the industry than he did this time last year.

"Last year we started in mid-February, which is really early," Larry Haigh said, who's also the owner of Haigh's Maple Syrup and Supplies in Bellevue, Mich.

It was too early, in fact. Michigan sap production was cut in half in 2012 because of warm spells in January and February, but 2013 is shaping up to be a sweet year.

"You kind of depend on mother nature to take what we can get," Haigh said. "So, when we get these warms days, we'll get some good runs, and then at night, the snow and the cool ground will help cool it faster, so we're kind of hoping we'll get a more traditional season."

Haigh just finished tapping 650 trees that will produce about 500 gallons of sap in one day, and it takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. It might sound complicated, but anyone with a maple tree can do it.

"We have a lot of maple trees around the house, and we thought it would just be another one of those nature things that we could do as a family," Jane Scollon said.

She bought 25 buckets at Sugar Bush Supplies Co. in Mason for her do-it-yourself syrup making. The owner said this weather has brought business back.

"We've just had all kinds of interest," Sugar Bush Supplies Co. owner Mary Douglass said. "People are really getting geared up, getting ready to go out. These warm days like this really get people excited."

March has also been declared Michigan Maple Syrup Month by Governor Snyder. The state ranks 7th nationally in maple syrup production, but Haigh said it's still, literally, an untapped business.

"Michigan actually has twice as many trees as Vermont," Haigh said. "We're tapping like .02 percent of the trees that could be tapped that are maple."

For now people are just focused on this year's potential.

"We tend to eat a lot more pancakes this time of the year, and this year, we're going to start selling it," Scollon said.

Even though this weather is ideal, maple syrup makers said they keep their fingers crossed until April.

Sugar Bush Supplies Co. and Haigh's Maple Syrup farm will be among dozens of producers participating in the first ever Michigan Maple Weekend that begins March 16.

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