Erratic Northeast Ohio weather cuts maple syrup yield by 55%

KIRTLAND, OH (WOIO) - Warm days and below freezing nights is the perfect winter weather recipe for a big batch of sap, but workers at Lake Metroparks Farmland said Mother Nature hasn't dealt a very good hand.

"It is a bad year. This weather, the craziness of this weather, it's really sped and slowed and sped and slowed the system up," said Lake Metroparks Farmland Event Manager Andy McGovern.

McGovern said sap runs up and down maple trees when temperatures warm up and cool back down. When the weather stays warm, sap stays up top.

"The longer it keeps it up there, it actually changes the sap. The sap starts getting a little bit cloudy and it starts making a little bit darker syrup and that's what's happening this year," said Lake Metroparks Farmland Agricultural Maintenance Worker Don Beran.

Beran has been farming for nearly 40 years and helped build the massive maple syrup farm in Kirtland.

Although it may look like he's collected a lot of sap this season, he said it typically takes 40 gallons of tapped sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup.

"Everybody is hurting in this part of the country," Beran said.

He said this season stings twice as bad, because last year's harvest was low too.

On top of 900 trees workers have tapped into a line system that draws out sap, they also have 102 trees they've tapped by using the traditional bucket method. Despite all resources, the warmer weather is bringing production down to only about 50 percent this year compared to a typical year.

"(Right now we have) 140 gallons. Traditionally, we're at 275, 300 gallons at this time... It's just like any farming. It's a bit of a gamble. It all depends on weather. There are some years when it's amazing and some years when it's average and some years, it's like this," said McGovern.

The maple syrup season typically runs from mid-February to March, depending on the weather.

The Lake Metroparks is hosting its annual Maple Sugaring Weekends at the Farmpark in Kirtland. The event is being held March 3, 4, 10 and 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission prices are:

  • Ages 12 through 59: $8
  • Ages 60 and older: $7
  • Ages 2 through 11: $6
  • Children younger than 2: free
  • Farmpark members: free
  • Active U.S. military and family: free with military ID

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