Mahaska County Conservation Hosts Annual Maple Syrup Festival

Area residents braved the snowy conditions to enjoy a bit of nature at her sweetest during Saturday's Maple Syrup Festival.

Area residents braved the snowy conditions to enjoy a bit of nature at her sweetest during Saturday’s Maple Syrup Festival.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The weather was very different, but the syrup was just as sweet.

On Saturday, March 2nd, the Mahaska County Conservation Board held its annual Maple Syrup Festival at the Eveland Access area that is located 4 miles south of Beacon on Hwy, T39.

There is much to learn about tapping trees, and Chris Snyder was on hand to help teach anyone who wanted to learn. He taught about what trees to look for and where to drill holes in the bark.

Mahaska County Conservation Naturalist Laura DeCook spoke about the Native American methods of collecting sap, and then how it was converted into maple syrup.

One of the favorite parts of the day is the sampling of the syrup. Visitors had the opportunity to taste some of the fresh syrup drizzled over ice cream.

With the drought in central Iowa this year, I asked DeCook if there was more or less sap than normal, but she indicated that there doesn’t seem to be any impact, as of yet, on sap production.

“The sap seems to be flowing just fine.” DeCook said.

The sap “is part of the trees natural process to survive. They store the sap down in the roots and once the temperature is warmer, such as the 30’s and 40’s during the day, and cold at night, that just triggers the sap to start going up the tree to the branches, which feeds it so it can start budding out and start the photosynthesis process.” DeCook explained.

“Future water source to feed it throughout the summer, that would affect it [tree and sap], but at this point in the trees annual lifecycle, it doesn’t seem to.” DeCook said of how a lack of water could impact local trees. She said that she could see it affecting the quality of the tree over time if the drought was to continue, “if it was continuous drought year after year.”

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