Spring has sprung. There are bulbs starting to poke their tips through the cold soil and giant snow banks are melting everywhere.The ground is getting pretty soft in places, but that doesn’t mean that winter has quite given up the ghost yet though. I saw flakes in the air this morning and they are forecasting more in the week to come. While that might spell bad news to sun-starved Canadians that hunger for the not that Spring sunshine brings, not everyone is upset by the cool temperatures.
Last year at this time, temperatures had soared into the 20s (that’s Celsius folks; equal to the low 70s F). As people rejoiced and slipped into their shorts and sandals, there was another group that steeled themselves for the aftermath of our brief tease of summer weather – maple syrup farmers. When the mercury rose, the sap in area maple trees stopped flowing as leaves began to unfurl. That meant an early and very short season, which equated to one of the worst maple syrup production years in approximately 5 years. It is estimated that there was a 50-60% drop in production, as compared to the previous year. As Canadian produces about 75% of the world’s maple syrup, that spelled a sharp decline in that sweet, delicious treat and its profits.
Fast forward to this year, and you’ve got a completely different story. In order for you to tap maple trees and collect sap to turn into maple syrup, you need cool temperatures at night (about -5°C) and slightly warmer temperatures during the day (about 5°C). This keeps the sap flowing, but the cooler temperatures prevent the sap from moving into the leaf buds and producing this year’s new leaves. We have certainly seen cool temperatures at night and there haven’t been too many warm days to scare the sap away. Good news for area sugar bushes!
So if you think that the robin in your front yard means that you have missed this year’s crop of maple syrup, think again. Most local sugar bushes in Southwestern Ontario will still be open til April 7th and you can often purchase syrup even after the active season is over. That amber gold is a sweet treat that delivers a bigger anti-oxidant punch than broccoli or blueberries. It also has anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and antibacterial components that make it a better choice of sweetener than corn syrup, honey, sugar or brown sugar. It is 100% natural, unrefined and the tastiest way to get a dose of manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. So go ahead and pour it in your tea or coffee, over a stack of pancakes or even drizzled on carrots or salmon. Delicious and nutritious, that’s Canadian maple syrup at its finest!
- Maple syrup producers hope for 2013 comeback (cbc.ca)
- Ingredient of the week: maple syrup (o.canada.com)
- Sugar Bushes In Your Neighbourhood (inyourneighbourhood.wordpress.com)
- Maple Syrup Season is Upon Us (clctreeservices.wordpress.com)
- the natural history of maple syruping (rebeccainthewoods.wordpress.com)