Previous week summary
In the earliest areas near Sarnia, Chatham/ Kent and London, maple producers ended their sap collection season around April 7, reporting their final syrup crop as 80 to 100 percent as their season closed, ending with medium and amber grades.
In later areas of the province, maple syrup producers reported numerous sap flows occurred last week. Producers collected sap each day from Sunday through to Thursday and boiled-off two and three times during the week. Grey/Bruce and Huron produced 75 to 100 percent crop so far making medium and amber grades. Peterborough, Kawartha’s and Quinte areas report 50 to 80 percent crop and are still anticipating more sap next week. Lanark area reported 75 percent or more of a syrup crop so far, south of Highway 7.
Areas further north including Huntsville, Algonquin and Petawawa reported about 50 percent of the syrup crop has been processed so far, with light and medium colour grades. Producers in northern areas had their first good sap flows and boils on April 1.
Buds on sugar maple trees in the Woodstock and Wellington regions were swelling by the end of the week.
Photos 1 & 2. As the week ended April 13, sugar bushes in southern areas (left) saw the last of the sap collection, while sugar bushes in northern areas (right) are still wintry deep with snow and about half way through the syrup processing season.
Upcoming week prediction
In earliest southwestern regions, sap collection and syrup processing is now finished for the year, where buds on sugar maple trees are now actively growing. Once maple sap turns buddy and off-flavour it will not revert back and will remain unfit for making syrup, even where sap flow continues.
In later areas, the long-range weather forecast predicts that several sap flows will occur for the latter half of the week to Friday. Syrup processing will continue in central and northern regions from St. Joseph Island, Haliburton/Kawartha, Petawawa up to North Bay, possibly extending later than Easter weekend. Snow cover remains deep in northern sugar bushes, which will help maintain colder air temperatures during the day.
Photos 3. In the Wellington/Waterloo region, buds on sugar maple trees at the beginning of the week, April 14 (bud on the left) have begun to swell and elongate during recent warm weather, compared to buds collected from the same tree on April 7 (right bud). This advanced growth stage generally indicates that new sap is now buddy and off-flavour. Buddy off-flavour sap could show up anytime this week in central regions. Producers should test all fresh sap for quality this coming week.
Photo 4 & 5. Inside the swelling sugar maple buds, flowers with pollen sacs (left) and new tiny leaves (right with bud scales removed) are visible and ready to emerge. The flowers may pollinate into a seed crop, the leaves will make new sugar during summer then turn to fall colours.
Maple syrup and value-added maple products
Now that maple syrup is being produced during the 2014 season, sugar-makers will be working wonders producing value-added pure maple products, such as maple butter, maple sugar, maple toffee, and maple candy. Entrepreneurs have been actively developing new products that use pure maple sap, syrup or sugar as the base ingredient, such as Ontario beers and wines, and a Canadian liqueur from Quebec. Maple syrup has also gained interest as a culinary ingredient in restaurants, in barbecue sauces, salad dressings and dips, to name a few.
Photos 6 & 7. After maple syrup is boiled a little longer to reduce the water content further, stirred maple sugar is dispensed as a thick hot liquid into molds of various shapes and sizes (photo credit: Curle’s Maple, Quinte). The thick maple quickly hardens as maple sugar in the mold. Who wouldn’t want to try doing this sometime?!
Photos 8 & 9. Fresh maple syrup and pure maple products, such as maple butter, maple jelly, maple sugar and hard candy are now ready from the 2014 crop. Maple flakes (right) are made from pure maple syrup that has been dehydrated into dried flakes or into granular sugar. Export markets in Europe and Asia for maple sugar and maple syrup is growing.
Photos 10 & 11. Unique new maple products are appearing, such as maple sap health drinks (left), which are pasteurized as pure maple sap, or as maple sap with various fruit juices. Spirited beverages (right) including Ontario maple beer and maple wines, and a Canadian liqueur made using pure maple syrup are available in beer and LCBO stores.