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Michigan's warm winter impacting maple syrup production

The impact of Michigan's warm winter on maple syrup production
The impact of Michigan's warm winter on maple syrup production 01:39

CHELSEA, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) -This winter was one of Michigan's warmest on record, which impacted maple syrup production, especially in southern parts of the state.

Kirk Hedding is the owner and operator of H&H Sugarbush, a family farm with 600 trees that makes maple syrup.

Warm weather is what ends their season, as they rely on a freeze-thaw cycle to keep the sap flowing in the trees.

They typically tap their trees in mid-February and wrap the season up in March or April. 

"We have multiple days in a row like 3, or 4, or 5, that are this sunny, this warm. It actually starts to spoil that sap before you can cook it," said Hedding.

Warmer weather also can change how the syrup looks and tastes.

"As we warm up, you're going to have more bacteria," said Hedding. "As it's colder out, there's less bacteria. So that plays a big role in if it's a lighter or a darker syrup in the long run."

With Michigan's warmer winters, Hedding has had to adapt – tapping their trees earlier and operating in a shorter season, but change is nothing new in farming.

"Different years are longer," said Hedding. "As you can see, there are a lot more 2023 jars here than there were in 2022 and 2021."

Hedding said maple syrup making has always been up to Mother Nature, not a calendar.

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