The unseasonable warm weather has made it a challenge for maple producers this year. With the maple taste and tour weekend three weeks away, will the syrup be ready in time?

Gary Bilek has been in the maple production business since the 1980's and said every season is different, but this year, maple producers got a jump start due to the warmer weather. "The weather has been exceptionally warm through the winter. We have had the chance to make a little syrup away earlier than normal we're probably at about 1/3 of a crop now, normally we would be doing our first boil", said Gary Bilek, the owner of Triple Creek Maple. 

Rather than start in mid-February with tree tapping, they were able to start at the beginning of the month. Following the tapping of the trees, all the pure sap goes through the lines and then into the sugar house where the rest of the process continues.

Bilek said to get the most out of the sap, they mother nature to cooperate. "We're going to have warm days above freezing, freezing nights, waiting for that point in the spring usually in February and March when we'll get some 40° days and some 30° nights", explained Bilek.

Besides unseasonably warm weather, another challenge they have faced have been heavy winds. "Just been a challenge all the way around, not only temperature, but we seem to have had a large number of wind storms in this past year. Way more than normal the issue that we run into, it brings trees and limbs down that ends up probably had more repairs this year due to wind damage than we have in the last twenty years", said Bilek.

While they did get a jumpstart on tapping, that doesn't necessarily mean they will get more syrup. "The earlier we start the year, the lower the sugar content is of the sap that is based on hours of daylight and that doesn't change as the weather changes. So as we move earlier and earlier we can get sap earlier but we don't get as much sugar we don't make as much maple syrup."

The Maple Taste and Tour weekend is set for March 16-17 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Triple Creek Maple and about a dozen of different sugar houses through the region.