Syrup Season Likely to Start Early Amid Warmer Temperatures in Minnesota

Maple syrup program led by Kao Thao, Naturalist
Maple syrup program led by Kao Thao, Naturalist
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

St. Paul, MN -( The El Nino weather pattern responsible for producing relatively mild winters in the Upper Midwest is expected to trigger an earlier-than-usual maple syruping season in Minnesota this year, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

People who tap trees for maple sap may soon begin setting taps this year, especially in the southern part of the state. Typically, late February to mid-April marks the start of Minnesota’s maple syruping season.

“I hope the maple trees produce as much sap as in years past, but the season may occur a few weeks early if this winter’s weather continues on its current course,” says Mimi Barzen, a DNR forester who taps trees on leased land in Grand Rapids during her spare time. “Early-flowing sap generally has less sugar, so it will take more of it to make syrup this year.”

Barzen and her family insert 125 to 150 taps every year, and process approximately 1,000 gallons of sap, making up to 25 gallons of actual syrup. A tradition they look forward to every year.

Sap flows best when the nights get below freezing and the days get warm—above 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Once collected, the sap is boiled down to produce syrup. Between 30 and 50 gallons of sap is needed to produce one gallon of maple syrup. The Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers Association estimates the state has over 125,000 taps producing between 35,000 to 45,000 gallons of syrup.

Sugar maples are the most favored tree for syruping due to the high sugar content in their sap. However, sugar content varies year to year and from tree to tree. Other maples and even a few non-maple trees are sometimes tapped such as red maple, silver maple, boxelder and birch. Norway maple, a non-native species, typically has a low sugar content and is not tapped.

“Usually we tap trees around mid-March, but every year is unique,” Barzen said. “With the mild weather, we’ll be watching closely for the sap to start running.”

Visit the DNR’s Landowner Spotlight page at for a story on how one family forest owner taps and makes syrup. Visit the state parks website at to find maple syrup tapping events.

More detailed information on maple syruping available at

About Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

The mission of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) is to work with citizens to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and to provide for commercial uses of natural resources in a way that creates a sustainable quality of life.

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