Sap flow and maple syrup processing activities – March 26 to April 1, 2016
Overview: The flavour and clarity of maple syrup this year is reported by producers as outstanding and of very high quality. The syrup season has ended now in early southern regions. Many maple syrup producers are satisfied after processing close to an average normal yield or more, including all colour grades.
Central and northern regions had a very busy week, many reporting record-breaking sap volume and seeing darker colour grades now. At least one or two more weeks of sap collection and syrup processing is expected in northern areas of Ontario.
Early season areas: Maple syrup production in southwestern Ontario and other south regions has ended two weeks ago. Cleaning and sanitation of sap lines, evaporators and the sugar house continues. Many producers utilize post season activities to make any necessary repairs, plan for upgrades and maintain their equipment in a condition of readiness for next year’s 2017 harvest. Some ice damage has occurred to sugar bushes, due to freezing rain the previous weekend.
Central and mid-season areas: This past week has been very busy for syrup producers from Huron, through Peterborough and across the Eastern Counties. Many report numerous sap flows and some experienced very large volumes of sap, both in vacuum collection and bucket operations. For total syrup yield, many operations have achieved 80 to 100 percent syrup crop, while a significant number of operations have processed more than the provincial average yield of 1.1 litres syrup per tap.
Buds on trees have swollen and expended significantly in central mid-season areas. Buddy off-flavour sap and syrup is now reported at the end of this week in Elmira over to Peterborough, which will end the syrup season for these producers.
Northern late areas: As much as one foot of snow remains in north and eastern sugar bushes. Snow is gone as of yesterday on Manitoulin Island. Sap collection and syrup production continued this past week with good sap flows reported over the Easter weekend, or as fairly steady sap flow during the week. Fresh snow accumulation last weekend helped slow bud development to keep sap quality good for maple syrup.
So far, the syrup yield in northern regions ranges from 60 to 100 percent of an average crop. Sugar maple trees remain dormant. Deep freezing weather is forecast again where trees will freeze up and sap flow will stop. Thawing conditions and good sap flow is expected to resume after April 6.
In the unfortunate event that a recall becomes necessary of maple syrup or maple products, it is necessary for maple syrup producers to use a code labelling system and detailed record keeping for every batch of syrup that is made. Sap or syrup that is purchased by producers from other suppliers for resale must also be traceable to the source.
Modernizing to food grade production
The Ontario maple syrup industry and the international maple syrup industries are taking food safety during the production of maple syrup and maple products very seriously. The website of the International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) posts a list identifying examples of equipment that are not acceptable for maple syrup production.