Sap from Maine’s sugar maple trees could start to run by midweek, kicking off the sugaring season.

After a cold winter, there is a perception that the season is starting late. But Kathy Hopkins, an educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said that may be based on the early seasons that maple syrup producers have enjoyed over the past few years.

“People think it’s late because for the last few years it’s been so early,” Hopkins said. “If you look back in historical records, it is not that unusual. If it starts this week, that will be fine.”

Weather is a big factor in the success of a maple sugaring season. If a cold winter, in which temperatures stay below freezing all day and all night, is followed by a quick warm-up, the season will be short and less syrup will be produced.

“That’s the biggest thing about the amount — having perfect weather for six weeks or so,” Hopkins said. “If it gets too hot too fast, it can close the season down fast, and you run the risk of getting a buddy tasting syrup that tastes like green twigs.”

Temperatures below freezing at night and above freezing during the day will force trees to produce sap.

National Weather Service forecasters say temperatures will hit the 40s in central Maine on Wednesday following a night with temperatures below zero — the kind of weather that makes the maples produce sap.

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