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Unusual winter causes Ellsworth area 'sugar well' to run dry

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food Ellsworth, 54011

Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Producers know there must be freezing nights and thawing days for the sap needed for maple syrup to run well.

Those conditions usually occur in March, the normal height of the maple-tapping season. But in the unusual winter recently ended, the freeze-and-thaw cycle came much earlier--back in February and even January, when it did syrup makers no good.

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Lyle Stockwell of S and S Sugarbush, southwest of Ellsworth, has tapped maple trees at the same stand for 53 years, originally partnering with his late father-in-law, Floyd Snow. It's virgin timber--never cut off--on 35-to-37 acres and most all maple. Stockwell keeps written records dating back to 1961 of the production gained from that stand, presently having around 2,000 taps.

"I've never seen a year like this," he said Thursday, noting when the temperatures were suitable early this year, the ground was too hard and daylight was too short.

Read more in the print version of the Herald April 4.

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