March 3, 2020 – Town of West Bend, WI – Maple trees along Village Drive at Cedar Community on Highway Z were sporting bright blue plastic bags as temps were in the mid-40s and the sap was running.
About 100 trees were tapped on Monday across Cedar Campus. “We’re about a week behind,” said Pete Biletzky. “Last year we collected 950 gallons of sap which boiled down to almost 50 gallons of syrup.”
Thirty volunteers from Cedar Community participate in the project.
“We like this because it’s the only thing you can do outside this time of year…. that’s what the fun is,” said Biletzky.
For the syrup to flow temperatures have to be below freezing at night and then above freezing during the day.
“Right now it’s been perfect,” said Biletzky. “It’s down to 28 degrees at night and then you’re up to 44 in the day.”
In February 2016 we visited Lee Krueger who lives on Little Cedar Lake. His family has been tapping trees for maple sap for more than 40 years.
In February 2012 Krueger cited his Sugar Bush diary after the state had an unseasonably warm winter.
“The season is way early this year, prompted by warm days and freezing temperatures at night,” he said.
“When we test tapped a few trees on February 18 they dripped so well we went ahead and tapped our whole sugar bush,” he said.
The Krueger’s have tapped trees anywhere from the last few days in February to early March.
In 2006 and 2007 the Sugar Bush produced 175 gallons around March 8.
In 2008 and 2010 the Krueger’s topped out around 90 gallons; a note about a cold spell in March 2010 may be reason for the downturn that year.
Maple syrup farms across the country normally start collecting sap when the trees start budding, usually April or May.
Last week, I reached out to Krueger to see how he was going to roll this year. He said even though the temps were in the 50s they weren’t ready to get moving yet because the equipment was still in the shed. That game plan apparently changed over the weekend.
“Our maple plans changed as we had eight grand kids here and lots of help,” Krueger said. “So we carried maple equipment down from attics and into the woods and we were able to tap 80 trees.”
Krueger said the weather this week looks to be too cold “but, on warmer days (mid-30s and above) we’ll tap the 150 remaining trees and get all the pipes and tubing set up.”
Photos submitted by Krueger show his granddaughter Emma Krueger tapping a tree with her brother Ahren watching.
The second picture shows Ben drilling into a tree.
Photos courtesy Lee Krueger