As sure as the changing of the seasons, signs are beginning to be seen that point to spring.

As sure as the changing of the seasons, signs are beginning to be seen that point to spring. Winter is losing its icy grip: average daytime temperatures are creeping upward above freezing as the days last longer. For Richard “Butch” Halterman of Montevideo, that means maple syrup season is here.

Halterman, a retired Montevideo High School biology teacher, has been tapping  maple trees on his River Ranch south of Montevideo along the Minnesota River for many years. “Tim Elkington is the one who got me started, and Bill Botten got Tim started. I watched Tim do it a couple of times and I thought ‘Well, I’ve got land and trees down here,’ so I decided to try it,” said Halterman.

Maple syrup and maple sugar are among the oldest agricultural commodities produced in the United States. When the first European explorers arriv­ed in what would one day become the Northeastern United States, they found Native Americans managing maple groves and producing maple syrup and maple sugar.

There are a lot of maple trees at the River Ranch, and Halterman knows which ones are the good producers. Prior to the beginning of the season, Halterman scouted his property to decide on which trees to tap.

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