Jill Colton, staff writer
March 18, 2011 — Heavy snow has lead to major sap line repairs for maple syrup producers in New Brunswick.
Snow build up across New Brunswick has made life difficult for maple syrup producers. However, it's still too early to determine whether it will be a good or bad season.
Heather Hawker, City of Moncton forest management program coordinator, said all of their main maple syrup lines were buried underneath the mounds of snow. “The lines are usually four or five feet (1.2 or 1.5 metres) off the ground,” said Hawker. “Because of the snow build-up, we were literally stepping on them and over them.”
Hawker isn't the only producer having difficulties with the copious amounts of snow.
Hartley Estabrooks says he can't remember a time when there was this much accumulation. “I've never seen it this bad. Last year I thought we had quite a bit of snow, and this year, there's twice as much.”
Many workers have had to shovel the snow off the pipes, replace a lot of broken tees and fittings and locate the taps.
Hawker says just finding the taps proved to be a difficult operation.
Estabrooks echos her sentiments. He and his producing partner (Gary Bursey) have been fixing miles and miles of broken sap lines over the past few weeks, all the while manoeuvring around the sometimes treacherous conditions.
“A lot of labour was involved in digging out the lines and repairing them,” explains Davis Briggs, owner of Briggs Maple on Coverdale Road in Riverview.
New Brunswick maple syrup experts assert that the weather over the next few weeks will determine what kind of maple syrup season the province will get this year.
“If the snow had continued through March, like it did in January and February, it could definitely have delayed the season's start,” remarks a relieved Hawker.
Others aren't as optimistic. “If the weather doesn't hold for us, there's no way we're going to be able to get all the trees tapped,” says a concerned Bursey.
What producers are hoping for is a combination of warm days and cold nights over the next four to five weeks. According to industry experts, the ideal daytime temperature is around 5°C and -5°C at night.
This kind of consistency can represent the difference between four to five weeks of production or three to four days.
Last year it turned warm and stayed that way, resulting in a lot of unwanted warm nights tells Briggs. “As a result, a lot of them missed out on some good runs.”
Maple syrup production boasts $12 to $15 million in revenues each year, depending on what kind of season it was. New Brunswick produces the second largest amount of maple syrup in Canada, trailing only Quebec.
With files from Times&Transcript