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Maple Syrup Is Up in Mich., Down in Ind.


by Elise Koning

Published: Friday, April 19, 2024

Indiana maple syrup is an attractive product for consumers and shops interested in local goods, but it can be difficult to meet demand.

This year's maple syrup production varied across the state but overall was down. Indiana Maple Syrup Assn. President Dan Winger of North Manchester said that sugarmakers in the northern part of the state fared better than those in the southern region.

"Across the state, ourselves included, we were down about 20%," Winger said. "Some were at only a quarter to a half of a crop."

He noted that the state's usual maple syrup production is 25,000 gallons, while this year, he estimates that producers made 20,000 gallons.

Winger said there are several factors that can affect maple harvest, including a mild winter.

"We didn't get the deep freeze this past winter," he said. "We didn't have a lot of rain or a lot of snow. The woods were dry, and the trees didn't take up as much water."

Winger added that smoke and haze from the Canadian wildfires this past summer also affected the trees. He noted that sugar content in the maple sap was down, as well.

Doug Mark of Maple Creations near Coatsville, Ind. said that several producers had their trees damaged by hail, which could affect leaf production. Damage to the leaves might lower sugar content in the sap.

"We averaged 1.5-1.6% sugar content," Mark said. "Ours is usually 1.7-1.8%."

With that lower sugar content, Mark said that instead of the usual 40 gallons of sap to one gallon of syrup ratio, his operation used 58 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

"There are so many variables with weather throughout the year," Mark said. "We had some friends last year, they had sap running on days we wouldn't have anything at all. Microclimate makes a difference."

This year, he began producing syrup at the beginning of February and ended the first weekend of March. He then participated in the statewide Maple Weekend, held March 9-10 with several IMSA members opening up their operations for visitors to observe the production process.

"We take groups around and explain our operation," Mark said. "We have a few maple-based snacks and some drinks."

Mark said that several of his customers like the local aspect of his product. He works with a local distillery to make bourbon barrel syrup.

"We get several calls through the year," Mark said. "'I just heard about you guys and I like that you're local.' We do a couple of sales events each year, and the first question is, 'Where do you make it?'"

Mark said they can't make enough maple syrup to meet demand.

"We have people call us from coffee shops and say, 'Can you supply syrup?'" Mark said, "and we just don't have enough. There are a lot of places where you could sell it if you could make enough."

Winger said that this is the story statewide: demand outpaces supply.

"Indiana consumption is more than our production even on a normal year, so we need more maple syrup producers," he said.

He encouraged anyone interested in the syrup process to reach out to IMSA at www.indianamaplesyrup.org.

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