Maple syrup producers worried warm weather could shorten sap season
Published Saturday, March 12, 2016 9:59PM EST
As much of central Canada experiences spring-like, record-high temperatures, some sap producers are worried that this year’s maple production season may be short and not-so-sweet.
The mild days and nights are a mixed blessing for producers of the Canadian maple staple, which is collected and boiled into syrup.
In Quebec, attention is not on melting snow and ice, but on the flow of sap.
For nearly four decades, Quebecer Pierre Faucher, owner of Sucrerie de la Montagne, has tapped maple trees and boiled the sap into syrup at his traditional sugar shack. He says this year, production is starting at around the same date as it has for the past three years. He is focused on being positive.
“This is the first batch of the season,” Faucher said in an interview with CTV News on Saturday. “That beautiful gold colour – it’s really nice. Very proud.”
Faucher says the dates when the sap starts to run tend to vary from year to year. But on this warm winter day – it hit 17 C in Toronto on Saturday – sap producers are showing concern.
Another week of warm weather could shorten the maple syrup season.
It is too warm at overnight, and no there is no frost in the forecast. Maple producers need temperatures that bounce between freezing at night and above zero during the day.
The syrup season can be as unpredictable as the weather. A late spring in 2015 caused maple syrup production in Canada to drop last year. Poor weather in parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also impacted production.
In Quebec, where maple syrup is part of the cultural identity, there is a stockpile for so-called rainy days.
It is part of the government quota system, which ensured that Quebec’s maple trees supplied 30.6 million litres of sap in 2015.
But the federation of producers controls how many trees are tapped, and sets a price. It also cracks down on those producers who don’t follow the rules.
The notion of abolishing that system is dividing the industry.
A report found that Americans are grabbing a bigger share of the pie. The report also concluded that it is time to abolish quotas.
“We’ve lost nine per cent of the market already,” Faucher said.
But Faucher says for now, the focus is on the sweet part of the maple syrup story.
“The sap is running, and I guess the people from the city can smell it and they are all coming out at the same time, it is great,” he said.
With a report by CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin and with files from The Canadian Press