March is Maple Syrup Season in Michigan
March not only signals spring's arrival, it also means it's maple syrup-making season in Michigan! According to the Pure Michigan website, when it comes to maple syrup production Michigan ranks fifth in the nation and produces on average 82,000 gallons of syrup during any given year.
Being that I haven't been in the state for the last seven years, I totally forgot syrup production is just one of many aspects that makes living in Pure Michigan so unique! From the Great Lakes to the sand dunes to Motown to ice fishing-- we really do have it all.
Which Trees Produce Syrup?
Maple syrup is only made in North America where the preferred syrup tree, the Sugar Maple, thrives. This tree which is the preferred tree for this type of sap collection is found mainly in the Northeastern portion of the country and in southeastern parts of Canada which range from Ontario to Quebec.
The Michigan DNR says black, red, and silver Maple trees can also be tapped for syrup production, but the Sugar maple has the highest sugar to water ratio of 40:1 which is why it's often used in commercial syrup production.
When to Tap
Sap and syrup production in Michigan are weather-dependent-- no surprise there! Experts say the best time to tap your tree is at the start of spring or at least during the time when nighttime temperatures are below freezing but daytime temperatures are above freezing, the range of 20-40 degrees seems to be about perfect for production.
Pure Michigan adds,
This see-saw effect of warm days and cold nights causes pressure changes within the trees. If the tree’s internal pressure is greater than the external barometric pressure, sap will be pushed out of a hole drilled into the tree
How to Tap
The Michigan DNR has certain guidelines when it comes to tapping a tree for syrup production. For example, a tree must be at least 10 inches in diameter before it can be tapped. Sap should also be kept cool and be processed as soon as possible to avoid spoilage. One tree can be expected to put out between 6-10 gallons of sap a season but be advised, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup!
You'll know syrup-making season is over when your tree buds begin to open. You'll want to be sure to pull your taps at this time as the flow of sap will slow down and it will turn a yellow-ish color with a bitter taste-- and nobody wants bitter syrup!
If you have a Sugar Maple tree of your own you can try this at home! Watch the video below or click here for instructions on how to turn your sap into a taste of Pure Michigan syrup!