Did you realize that despite the cold temperatures and blustery weather forecasts, March is only days away? That means that Spring will arrive shortly, if in name only. It is hard to dream of spring’s rebirth with sky-high snow mountains taking over precious real estate in area parking lots. Not to mention the ice and snow that covers everything in sight in London, Ontario. Winter can’t hold on forever though. The proof is that regional maple sugar bushes are set to open this weekend!
The 2014 Maple Syrup Season is Here
As any stalwart Canadian knows, the sweet taste of maple syrup is worth the trek into any chilly sugar bush. In fact, Canada produces approximately 80% of the world’s supply of maple syrup. While Quebec is the leader in maple production (over 24 million litres), 2.2 million litres of syrup is nothing to sniff at from Ontario’s producers. As we all raise the same maple-leaf-adorned flag, Canadians across the country know that the mighty Acer is worth our pride.
How does the 2013-14 winter that refuses to let go affect maple trees, and in turn syrup production? A phone call to a local sugar bush is one way to find out.
The Word from Local Producers
Here’s what I found out;
The folks at Crinklaw Maple Products (4570 Westminster Dr, London) are a little slow to start this year. They have started to tap some of their 2,500 sugar maples (Acer saccharum), but deep snow prevents them from finishing the task to date. That is an awful lot of trees! I understand the delay, as there’s plenty of deep snow around my home too. All that snow is good for trees though, as it provides excellent coverage to the tree roots, and plenty of moisture for the trees to absorb.
Despite the snow, Crinklaw’s is slated to open the Sugar House on March 1st, 2014. The store is not open Mondays or Tuesdays, but is stocked full of sweet treats the rest of the week. Plus, the 2014 Maple Festival is scheduled for March 8-9, 2014 from 10 am – 3 pm. They’ll have wagon rides, pancake meals, maple syrup displays and more fun to tempt you with. Head out for a sweet weekend with the family!
Over at Rolling Ridge (22681 Vanneck Rd, Ilderton) the story is the same. There is still two feet of snow in the bush hampering the tapping of trees. They normally have 15,000 taps in their maple forest, but are waiting for the weather to warm up before putting all the stiles in place. Last weekend’s warm spell started this year’s production off, but this week’s fickle dip in Celsius shut it right back down again.
You see daytime temperatures need to rise in order for the sap to start flowing in the trees. Ideally maple syrup producers need warm days (around 5° C) and freezing overnight temperatures (about -5° C) to keep the flow of sap dripping. Any warmer and the starches stop converting into sugar, buds burst, and the new leaves begin to unfurl. That spells an end to production. What Ontario maple producers are worried about is just that—a slow start, but quick catch-up to spell a short season. And looking at the long-range forecast, fears are that it will still be a few weeks before production takes off.
As much as I’m gunning for the warmth of spring, I have to admit that some sweet maple syrup is a part of my dreams too. Here’s hoping the temperatures rise a little more. And that it turns into a good syrup season for farmers in these parts. Our sweet spring dreams depend on it.*For more information about maple syrup, Ontario producers, and to find nearby maple syrup festivals, check out the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association page.