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Madison --- It's the start of the season for a major Wisconsin crop, but this year's winter has some producers worried.


March starts the maple syrup season across the state, but with all the recent freeze and thaw cycles, the drastic temperature charges may prevent the sap from following.


Educators at the MacKenzie Environment Center say they're hoping for a slower start to spring.


"It's all dependent on mother nature," says Ruth-Ann Lee of the MacKenzie Center. "So if we have a spring that's nice and gradual, so we have those above freezing days, but it's still cold at night, makes for a perfect maple syrup season."


Wisconsin ranks 4th in the nation in maple syrup production, behind Massachusets, New York and Maine.


Wisconsin syrup makers sell about $4.5 million worth of syrup each year.

Impact of frigid winter on maple syrup crop Saturday, March 8 2014, 10:13 PM CST

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