Sap Taps Run Dry

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MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP -- In recent years, maple sap is often running by early March. But with the record-breaking low temperatures we've had, that's not the case this year.

Spouts and buckets are attached to several maple trees at the Meesing Nature Center near Marshalls Creek.

Everything is set to start collecting the flow of sap to make maple syrup.

But the sap inside the maple trees isn't moving.

"When it's cold, there's no movement going on. The kind of weather you're looking for is below freezing at night and warm, 40s and 50s during the day," said Karen Boyle, an environmental educator with the Monroe County Conservation and Environmental Education Center.

Usually this time of year, the spouts are dripping with sap, which offers a great learning experience for students.

Elaine Rogers is a professor at East Stroudsburg University. She takes her students to the Meesing Nature Center to learn about the history of maple syrup.

But no flow makes for a difficult lesson.

"It's very important to learn these things firsthand. It's one thing to describe that, but it's another all together to go out and see it happening," said Rogers, a professor of Recreation Services Management.

Last year at this time, a total of 360 gallons of maple sap had been collected. This year, that number is 120 gallons of maple sap.

"We're worried that all of a sudden, it's going to break and it's going to be above freezing and it's not going to get below freezing, at which time the sap continues to work its way up trying to get to the buds.  Once it gets to the buds, we're done," said Boyle.

But Monroe County Conservation and Environmental Education Center workers are looking forward to this weekend, as temperatures are expected to get into the 40s.

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