Maple syrup season officially underway
The winter and spring-like weather across the state gave some maple syrup producers at an advantage, while others experienced a slower start to the season.
March 15 to April 15 is declared as the Wisconsin Maple Month by Governor Tony Evers, but the season varies year to year depending on the area of the state and Mother Nature, of course.
Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producer’s Association (WMSPA) marketing intern Alicia Baroun says her family began tapping maple tree on February 10 and had collected 75% of the sap for the season at their DePere operation by the time producers in northcentral Wisconsin even began.
Nearly 170 miles away in northeast Wisconsin east of Chippewa Falls, Pozarski Family Farms north of the village of Boyd hosted the the annual WMSPA First Official Tree Tapping. The family-run business was just starting to collect and cook sap prior to the March 18 event that brought together the public and maple syrup community.
The Pozarski sugar bush
In 2012, Blake Pozarski began tapping just over 100 trees for maple syrup production. Today the family farm has expanded the operation to 2,000 trees and has the equipment and capacity to process sap purchased from other growers.
“I grew up on a dairy farm, so farming is kind of what I do – and I guess I don’t really do anything small,” said Pozarski.
The first-generation maple syrup producer acknowledged it’s common for someone just starting to expand quickly. Pozarski says the process of collecting sap and boiling it down to a syrup is a family affair that's a lot of fun.
“If you’re starting relatively small, be careful because it’s a disease that kind of grabs a hold of you,” he said.
Pozarski Family Farms is truly a family business with Blake receiving support and help from his wife, Jessica and their children, Wyatt and Finley. The family collects sap from three different woods, using tubing and a vacuum system to transport the sap to the sap shack for processing. Today the family's maple syrup is available for sale at local farmers markets as well as local stores and online.
According to the USDA, the number of taps in Wisconsin increased 20,000 in 2022 to 920,000 taps. In 2022, the state's maple syrup production was 440,000 gallons, up 75,000 from the previous year. And with taps appearing in nearly every county across the state, it's easy to celebrate locally made products, says Alice in Dairyland Taylor Schaefer.
“It’s certainly one of those commodities that we can really celebrate by buying local, but it’s so important, especially this time of the year to give back to our state’s producers and processors and our small businesses as well,” said Schaefer.
As the official ambassador for Wisconsin’s agriculture, Schaefer has seen the family commitment needed to operate businesses across the state especially when producing maple syrup.
“It’s so special to see families coming together every single year to tap trees to make maple syrup. This is a tradition that continues on to the next generation,” said Schaefer referring to the Pozarski family farm as well as producers across the state.
Schaefer says she looks forward to trying new maple recipes. “It’s a great ingredient to use as a natural sweetener or if you just want to have it in your coffee.”
Over 20 attendees gathered at the kick-off event to celebrate the maple syrup industry. Among them was Wisconsin Sen. Jesse James and Congressman Tom Tiffany.
If you missed the tapping at Boyd, producers across the state will open their operations to the public. Visit wismaple.org/calendar-of-events for full details.
- April 1, 2023: 12th Annual Phelps Maple Fest at School District of Phelps, 4451 Old School Rd, Phelps, WI
- April 1, 2023: Morley’s Maple Syrup Farm Tour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1346 WI-48, Luck, WI
- April 1, 2023: 2nd Annual Plymouth Maple Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Plymouth City Park, 203 Suhrke Rd., Plymouth, WI
- April 29: Taylor County Lions Maple Fest from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Simek Recreation Center, 1037 W Broadway Ave, Medford, WI
- May 6: WMSPA Annual Meeting and Maple Syrup Judging from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Hotel Marshfield, 2700 S Central Ave, Marshfield, WI