Tapping season

By Anthony Weber

February 20, 2014

By Colin Foster

The wild weather patterns this winter haven’t made it easy for maple syrup producers.

But with temperatures finally starting to warm up — tree tapping season has officially begun.

Rod Schmidt, operations coordinator of maple syrup for the Miami County Parks District, said they were able to produce around 17 gallons of syrup last season in time for the Discovering Maple Ridge event. But that number could dwindle down significantly this season due to wrong weather conditions.

“The weather is really not cooperating well this season. Ideally, you need temperatures that would be about 25 degrees (F) at night and then 40-45 degrees (F) during the day, nice and sunny,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt and the 10-plus volunteers work in different areas of syrup production. Some volunteers dump buckets, others bring sugar to the house, others boil. Schmidt said they have 34 taps and that it takes roughly 40-45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. He said it takes about seven to eight hours get 100 gallons. On Wednesday, they were able to get 30 gallons.

“We’re trying to replicate what the previous land owners (the Coy family) did,” Schmidt said. “We have more of an old fashioned way of boiling it down, hanging buckets on trees, we boil in flat pans, where as your big producers use a whole different system. The main purpose (for doing this) is education.”

The Discovering Maple Event, which aims to educate children and adults on the process of maple syrup making, will be held from 1-3 p.m. March 1 at Maple Ridge Reserve, 10430 State Route 185, Covington. It will include hiking on the trails, a tree tapping demo and a booth about the historic tapping of the property. People will also be to given samples of the syrup — and hot chocolate.

“It’s a great way for people to learn about how maple syrup is made,” said Amanda Smith, marketing and public relations coordinator for the Miami County Parks District.