Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

March 7, 2013

Wagbo Farm gets ready for maple syrup season

Pancake lovers rejoice.

Maple syrup season is just about upon us.

Volunteers at the Martha Wagbo Farm and Education Center in East Jordan have been busy tapping the maples on their 25-acre sugar bush in anticipation of this month’s sap run.

“We have the capacity for about 1,500 taps, but on any given year we’ve been doing between 500 and 700,” said Wagbo director Jen Lewis.

Gov. Rick Snyder has deemed March “Michigan Maple Syrup Month.” The state ranks seventh nationally in the production of maple syrup, with an average yearly production of about 100,000 gallons, according to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association.

The maple season starts in February in the southern counties of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and runs into April in the U.P.

Lewis said it’s too early in the season to predict how the sap will run. They’re keeping fingers crossed for daytime temperatures to shoot well above freezing and nights to drop below. Such temperature fluctuations make for optimal flow of the sticky stuff.

Wagbo has been making syrup for 10 years. Last year brought one of the lowest yields because of warm temperatures, but the year before was one of the best, said Lewis.

It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to yield one gallon of finished product. Wagbo can produce between 100 to more than 200 gallons of finished syrup in a good year.

They use the proceeds from half of their syrup sales to cover the cost of operations. The other half is given to volunteers in exchange for their work, which can range from working in the sugar bush to getting ready for their annual open house.

At Wagbo, the sap travels from the trees along hundreds of feet of tubing, using gravity and vacuum, to a 1,000-gallon collection tank. From there, it goes to a 3,000-gallon holding tank next to the wood-fired evaporator where the sap is heat processed into pure maple syrup.

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