In Wisconsin, the cold winter is coming to an end. Soon, daytime temperatures will rise above freezing. The sap in the maple trees will start running. And syrup producers will get to work tapping their trees.
Theresa Baroun of the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association has been making syrup since she was 10-years old. She says that over the years, the timing of this sweet Wisconsin tradition has changed.
Baroun: “What we call ‘maple syrup month’ in Wisconsin is March 15 to April 15, but it seems we’ve been tapping our own personal sugar bush the last week or the third week in February. It seems each year it gets earlier and earlier.”
It’s a symptom of Wisconsin’s rapidly warming winters. Scientists predict that within 40 years, the state’s average winter temperatures may be up to 11 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they were in 1980. When winters are warmer, spring thaws tend to come sooner … and so does the syrup season.
Baroun doesn’t yet know how warmer winters will affect syrup production. But for Wisconsin – the fourth largest syrup producing state in the country – the changes are a cause of concern.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Sam Harrington is a freelance journalist, writer, and illustrator in Madison, Wisconsin.