Warm Winter Means Less Maple Syrup

By: Hannah Saunders Email
By: Hannah Saunders Email

If there could be a king of Michigan's maple syrup, Larry Haigh of Bellevue would be it. He's the president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association and the Owner of Haigh's Maple Syrup and Supplies. He has worked more than 50 annual sap harvests, but this one approaching in March has him worried: "I'm not overly optimistic, let's put it that way."

An optimal season for sap production is about 70-80,000 gallons in a year. Last year was a huge success for the state with 123,000 produced, but the way this season has been, this year could have the lowest results since 2000 (only 44,000 gallons).

"If we have a bad season, we may not raise prices all that much because we don't want to scare our customers away," explained Haigh. Which means he will have to dig into his own pockets to make ends meet. He might have to turn to buying syrup from other producers to keep his 800 customers happy.

He predicts even the national brands won't rise in price anytime soon. Syrup can be preserved for several years and most harvesters have left-overs from last spring. "So if we have a bad year, we'll at least be able to make it part way through the year without having to buy syrup."

For now it's a race against time. He says with more frost, it's not too late to have a decent season. But the second the 575 trees bud on his property, the sap will turn bitter.

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