By the time you read this, we’ll have ‘sprung ahead’ with Daylight Savings Time.  This also means that spring is near and that brings commercial and hobby production of maple syrup to Forest County.

Sugar camps have a long history, dating back to Native American tribes who utilized syrup and sugar made from the trees. Sugar and syrup also became an important trading item for many people, especially in North America. Historically there were thousands of sugar camps dotting the forests across the Northwoods.

What makes the sap flow?  Sap flow from sugar maple trees is entirely temperature dependent. The rise in the temperature of the outer layers of the tree (the sapwood) to a temperature above 32 degrees F causes a positive pressure in the tree fibers. This pressure produces the sap flow. Many people assume that sap flows only from the roots, actually on warm spring days which follow cold nights, sap flows down from the tree’s branches and then out the spouts or taps. Sap also flows back and forth laterally within a tree, depending on temperature and pressure. Sap flows out breaks in the sapwood. When tapped and the internal pressure of the tree is greater than the atmospheric pressure the sap flows out, much the same way that blood flows out of a cut.

Here are some interesting facts about maple syrup and sap:

  • Pure maple syrup is only made on a commercial scale in North America, nowhere else in the world
  • It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup, depending on the sugar content of the sap in that year and at that time of the year.
  • Each tap can yield 10+ gallons of sap per season. Vacuum collection systems yield approximately twice the sap as gravity systems.
  • A gallon of maple syrup weighs 11 pounds as compared to 8 pounds for a gallon of water

There are quite a few commercial grade operations of maple syrup production that have developed within Forest County over the last 10 years. These operations are bringing economic development and business production to our forest in the form of alternative products.

Production of maple syrup is an agricultural operation, however many associate it with forestry because of the trees involved. Depending upon production capabilities and industry standards, property used for maple sap production may receive property tax breaks under agricultural use.

Here in the Land & Water department, we are striving to get an inventory of what is actually produced and any contact with information on location of sugar camps and syrup production within Forest County, please give us a call or send us and e-mail.

To those of you that produce maple syrup as a hobby, have fun this spring. To those of you that produce maple syrup as a business, thank you for choosing Forest County!


Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land & Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at .