Harsh winter delays maple syrup production

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) — Mother Nature has thrown a wrench into maple syrup production across the Buckeye State.

Ohio ranks fifth in the country for maple syrup production, with producers making more than 150,000 gallons last year.

Typically, maple trees are tapped by the first week of March but some farmers said Monday their trees are too frozen to even drill holes and start harvesting sap. That could mean a shorter syrup season and less of the sweet stuff shipped off to stores.

David Hively of Misty Maples Sugar House on U.S. Route 62 is one local syrup manufacturer who has his eye on the extended forecast.

“All ready to go, have been for about a week or two, but we just gotta get the weather,” Hively said. “Maple syrup is the most dependent on weather of any farming agriculture there is.”

Hively said ideal sap collecting conditions include warmer, sunny days and below-freezing nights. He said the fluctuation is needed to keep the sap moving.

“We could drill the hole in the tree and put the spile in, but it would just be a dry hole because it’s so froze,” he said.

Last year was a record year for Misty Maples Sugar House with the trees producing 1,400 gallons of maple syrup. This year with a shortened season, Hively said he hopes to be able to squeeze out approximately 1,000 gallons.

“If we get some good cold nights and moderate warm days, and it stays like that for three or four weeks, we could still have a great season,” Hively said.

Misty Maples Sugar House has been in the Hively family for more than five generations. Hively’s children and grandchildren help with the process.

Their award-winning maple syrup is sold at the sugar house and several area farms and markets.

The sugar house will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and again on March 15 for anyone who wants to observe the syrup making process.

Officials at Boardman Park said they hope to put their taps into the trees sometime next week and they should be ready for annual Maple Syrup Festival the last two weekends of March.

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