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Maple Tapping Season Begins Earlier Than Usual
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/08/2024

Since 1948, Tony Schultz’s family has farmed land in the northwest corner of Marathon County.

Schultz harvests vegetables, grows wheat and corn and raises pigs and beef cows at Stoney Acres Farm. His dad oversees the tapping of 2,500 maple trees on the property. Shultz has helped out since he was young.

“Although I never kept a detailed journal of making maple syrup, I always thought of it as a transition season from mid-March to mid-April,” Schultz said. “But now, I feel like you have to kind of be ready to go at any moment.”

Volatility is critical “The key word in the last 15 years I think for maple syrup season is ‘volatility,’” Schultz said. “I just think you have to be on your toes with this season.”

Schultz sees the season going two ways. If a cold spell comes, tapping halts. Shultz predicts a second or third season as the weather fluctuates. This could mean retapping trees, which requires hours of work, throwing off the rest of his routine.

“Rolling with the season is anxiety-producing to me because we live with an industrial calendar,” Schultz said. “I have to throw that calendar out the window because here we are with maple syrup season in the beginning of February.”

The other way this plays out is temperatures continue to rise. Schultz remembers the “catastrophic” season of 2012, when temperatures reached the 70s in March.

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