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Maple syrup producers hope to bounce back from last year


Staff writers
March 26, 2013 — Spring has sprung and maple syrup producers are hoping to bounce back from one of the worst seasons last year.


Mild temperatures challenged maple syrup production last year
Mild temperatures challenged maple syrup production last year

All-time March records were set in much of central and eastern Canada last year, leaving residents shedding the layers and jumping right into summer-like weather. 

While it was great for beach-goers who enjoy the milder weather, it proved to be a challenge for many maple syrup producers.

Some farmers in southwestern Ontario started tapping trees around February 4th, marking an extremely early start, which is generally unheard of. 

It was a similar story in the Maritimes, where mild temperatures slowed maple syrup production significantly. 

"In order for sap to run you need two things," says Natalie Zalkind with the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan, Ontario. "You need a night below freezing and you need a day of four or five degrees above zero, but once it starts staying consistently above zero, that will be it for the season."

A little taste of winter's end at the Hebert's sugar shack in New Zealand, PEI
A little taste of winter's end at the Hebert's sugar shack in New Zealand, PEI

That's exactly what happened in most places last year. 

A warming trend with temperatures in the mid to high 20s resulted in a much shorter season.

According to the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, business was down about 60 percent in 2012. 

Producers are hoping for a much better season this year with a gradual transition from winter to spring. 

"Maple syrup and maple sap is so connected to the weather," says Sheila Wiebe at Bronte Provincial Park. "The fluctuations we experience in March, when you don't know what to wear, that is exactly what we need to get the sap to flow in the tree."

About 90 percent of Canadian maple syrup comes from Quebec, with Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI making up the rest.

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