BURTON, Ohio — On those special mornings when we get to have pancakes, many people don't think twice about where our maple syrup comes from. But some producers are having to pay extra attention to whether they’ll be able to collect any at all.

What You Need To Know

  • Warmer winters leaving a maple syrup producer guessing when to tap trees

  • Climate change can affect window to gather sap

  • Challenges haven't affected quality

President’s Day has traditionally been the start of maple syrup season in Ohio, but the warmer winters have left producers guessing when to tap trees.

Pierre Delafranconi discovered his love for making maple syrup in high school while helping a friend’s family with their business.

“That was the first time I’d ever had real maple syrup. It was amazing,” Delafranconi said. “In pay, I got a half gallon of real maple syrup.”

These days he’s making his own syrup. The last few years, mother nature has left him guessing as to when to tap trees.

“We’ve been having to tap earlier and earlier,” he said. “It’s just been getting too warm because of climate change.”

Delafranconi has 6,000 taps, one per tree. Each is connected with a tube that leads to a central place for collection.

“We don’t do buckets anymore. You’re driving machinery in there, rips up the woods, compacts the ground. It’s much better for the woods to do tubing,” he said.

Once a tree is tapped, he has about a 10-12 week window to collect sap, but even that has been affected.

“We’re having these 60-degree days where normally it never goes above freezing,” he said.

He said heat is bad for production.

“Bacteria grows, it’s sugar water so we’re constantly fighting that,” Delafranconi said.

Despite making maple syrup since 1996, Delafranconi didn’t open his shop, Butternut Maple Farm, until 2018. His love for making maple syrup extends to his trees. His shop is built from the damaged trees he collected.

“We didn’t cut any trees down,” he said.

Despite the challenges, he said there’s only one thing people have to concern themselves with their maple syrup choice.

“Some people like it dark. Some people like it light. It’s all a matter of preference,” Delafranconi said.