Maple syrup industry has great potential in Great Lakes states, new report says

Wisconsin is 4th and Michigan is 5th in U.S. in production

MADISON, Wis. -- As the sap began to flow in sugar maples in the Lake States and New England, state foresters in the area drew attention to this business opportunity for some landowners in their area in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

The major theme of a new report from the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance is that wood products are important, and so are the industries that create them. The report summarizes estimates of forestry’s economic contributions to local economies in 20 northern states.

“Maple syrup is an industry with tremendous growth potential in the Northeast and Midwest,” said David Neumann of the Michigan DNR. His comments came as the report was issued on the importance of wood products in the Northeast quarter of the U.S. from the Northeast-Midwest State Foresters Alliance, an organization comprised of state foresters in the area in those regions.

The report noted that in some Northeast states, maple syrup industry employment was the largest sector of direct forestry jobs.

Currently, Wisconsin ranks 4th and Michigan 5th among U.S. states in terms of pure maple syrup production. The far away leader is Vermont. Despite its small size Vermont produces more than half of U.S. output of pure maple syrup. New York and Maine both also ranked above the two Lake States.

Maple syrup is produced by tapping maple trees with a small spout and capturing sap that begins to run in the Spring. The sap begins to run when daytime temperatures are above freezing and overnight temperatures remain below freezing. Landowners typically negotiate an annual “tap lease” as part of a multiple year agreement. One tap captures about 10 gallons of sap which will produce about ¼ gallon of syrup.

Syrup production grew in both Wisconsin and Michigan last year, with Wisconsin producing 265,000 gallons and 170,000 gallons coming from Michigan in 2020.

The Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association is a good resource for information on this product, including its website A useful primer on the process is a youtube video by Theresa Barun, the association’s executive director (and a third generation syrup producer):

One taste of pure maple syrup will make you understand the difference between real maple syrup and the large plastic bottles of syrup you see in grocery stores.

They are flavored corn syrup. Look for the smaller bottles and check that they’re from processors in Wisconsin or Michigan!

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