2018-03-22 / Front Page

Sap flow slows as temps stay low

By Jen Murphy
Of The Enterprise staff


TAD CARTER pours syrup into bottles during the final stage of the syrup making process. He and his son, Britton Carter, are working to expand production in their “sugar shack” in Maple City. TAD CARTER pours syrup into bottles during the final stage of the syrup making process. He and his son, Britton Carter, are working to expand production in their “sugar shack” in Maple City. While the major snowmakers may have missed Leelanau County, spring continues to wait in the wings. And even if the mercury won’t rise, the sap will still flow — slowly but surely.

One of the first signs of spring other than the sound of birds in the morning is taps on maple trees and the beginning of syrup season. And anyone tapping trees in hopes of producing maple syrup is keeping fingers crossed for above-freezing temperatures.

Maple City resident Tad Carter said he isn’t seeing a whole lot from the 100 trees he has tapped this year.

“It’s been slow,” Carter said. “The only good day I got was towards the end of February.”

Temperatures should be in the 40s during the day, even if they dip below freezing at night, for the sap to flow.


TAD CARTER collects sap from a tree. Collecting sap from tapped trees is one of the first steps in maple syrup production. TAD CARTER collects sap from a tree. Collecting sap from tapped trees is one of the first steps in maple syrup production. “You never know,” Carter said. “There are a lot of factors.”

Recent sunshine certainly helps, but sap from many of his trees has turned into blocks of ice. That won’t necessarily hurt the end product, however.

Carter and his son, Britton Carter, have been working to establish his son’s business, Maple Woods Products.

“It’s been in the works for two or three years,” Tad Carter said.

Britton Carter, a Glen Lake graduate, returns to his native Leelanau County about one week every month to help with syrup production.

As the syrup and honey business has been “in the works,” the father-son duo has outfitted their Maple City sugar shack that, some may say, could rival some of Quebec’s finest.

Last year, Carter said they produced about 20 gallons of syrup using their spotlessly shiny stainless steel equipment. Next year? A whole different story. They plan to expand — a lot.

But while the Carters and other sap producers on the peninsula are hoping for an increased sap flow, meteorologist Jeff Zoltowski at the National Weather Service in Gaylord said it may take just a bit longer.

“We may see a temperature recovery Sunday, Monday and beyond,” Zoltowski said.

That “recovery,” he said, will likely mean highs in the low-40s.

“And we might be able to do better than that,” he said. “It depends on weather systems on patterns.”

Some warm air could come up from the south, but it’s not a sure thing.

The fractionally warmer spring temperatures coincide with our next chance — albeit a small chance — for precipitation.

And yes, that may mean snow.

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