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Unusual temperatures affecting maple syrup business

WJAC

SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. -- The unusual temperatures are not so sweet for maple syrup producers in the region.

The maple "Taste and Tour'" was held this weekend in Somerset County and a local maple syrup producer told 6 News the weather controls everything in the business and is affecting operations.

"It's too warm or too cold," said Kyle Hillegas, a maple syrup producer.

Weather is a big problem this year for maple syrup producers in Somerset County.

"Real warm up through December into January," said Hillegas. "The brief cold spell prior to this last warm up-up has really hindered the maple operation."

Hillegas said Somerset County is the largest maple provider in Pennsylvania but the weather conditions are hurting business.

"For maple, we need freezing temperatures at nights in the mid-20s and days in the mid- to upper 40s," said Hillegas. "It's taking 65 to 70 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup versus the normal 40 to 50."

The sugary tree sap is the raw and main ingredient in the maple industry and it relies 100 percent on Mother Nature.

"We are just at about half of what we made last year," said Hillegas. "We shut off the vacuum pumps in the woods to where we are no longer bringing sap in. It's not flowing enough to get quality sap to make good quality syrup."

But with the forecast uncontrollable, Hillegas said he does what he can to make enough for his customers.

"The maple syrup supply is still here. It's just a little more scarce," said Hillegas. "It's a little more pick and choose on what you're using this year."

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