Midwest Maple Syrup Producers Face Record Warm Winter As Climate Changes

"Human-caused climate change is having varied and unpredictable effects on maple harvests in Wisconsin, Iowa, and elsewhere, experts say."

"The art of maple syrup production flows through generations of Dan Potter’s family history.

His great-grandfather bought the family farm in rural Iowa in the late 1880s and cleared the land for strawberries, clay, and whiskey production. Eventually, he transitioned to making maple syrup to add to his whiskey. That started a 140-year-old tradition that has persisted through the Civil War, the Great Depression, and both World Wars.

Potter opened his own maple syrup company with his wife and three daughters in 2009. Great River Maple, in Garnavillo, Iowa, is now among the state’s most prolific syrup producers.

This year’s record-warm winter caused sap to flow early, bringing challenges for the family-run company. They tapped their first trees on Jan. 22 — more than three weeks earlier than ever before."

This story is a product of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, an independent reporting network based at the University of Missouri in partnership with Report for America, with major funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

Bennet Goldstein reports for Wisconsin Watch and Brittney J. Miller reports for the Cedar Rapids Gazette March 30, 2024.