Maple syrup production in Ontario is underway in all regions. Good sap flow was reported in many areas of the province early this past week followed by a temporary freeze up. The quality and flavour of syrup is reported exceptionally nice this spring and all colour grades are now available.
Plan to visit a Local sugar bush to taste fresh Ontario maple syrup, or take part in the upcoming province-wide Maple Weekend activities, first weekend of April. The forecasted sap flow weather is looking very promising in the coming week and should keep syrup producers very busy.
Sap flow activity
In earliest areas in southwestern, Niagara and Prince Edward County, the last sap from soft maple trees was harvested since buds are breaking into bloom now and buddy off-flavours are started. Several producers are now finished sap harvest for the year. On hard maples, buds have advanced quickly, however the sugar bush may be good for one or two more runs of nice quality sap. All colour grades of syrup have been processed. Sap sugar concentration has dropped at most early sites, with an exception in Prince Edward County where sap sugar is holding at 2.7 ⁰Brix. Keep a very close watch for buddy off-flavours this coming week.
Sugar operations using modern vacuum tubing, where diligent repair of air leaks are constantly resolved, producers are reporting a very good crop of syrup this year, a range of 1.0 to 1.4 litres syrup per tap.
In Grey-Bruce and Simcoe Counties, sap was flowing at the beginning of the week, and today (Friday) with a solid freeze mid-week. Central regions of Haliburton / Kawartha are still waiting for more productive sap runs at the end of the week.
The snapshot report from Grey-Bruce:
- Syrup flavour – smooth, delicate and excellent.
- Colour – Golden and Amber colours (new system) were processed, with the Amber just over the Golden dividing line in many cases.
- Sap sugar concentration – low range1.1 to 1.8 ⁰Brix, high range 2.0 to2.4 ⁰Brix.
- Syrup crop yield so far – buckets or without vacuum 42% to 60%, operations with modern vacuum 75% to just over 80%, one southern Grey–Bruce member reporting 100% of an average crop based upon 1 litre syrup per tap.
- Bud swell – soft maples are showing little sign of swelling, not wide-spread. No report of any movement in buds of hard maples, still very dormant with good sap.
- tubing damage – by wildlife (mainly squirrels) nil to below average, however, a consistent major seasonal problem in 2 larger operations due to chewing damage along with some wind damage.
Late season areas
Algoma, Algonquin, Ottawa Valley and Lanark and District regions – tapping is completed now at most sugar bushes, sap flow began early in the week followed by a deep freeze. Buds are still very dormant and with snow cover.
This past week represents a normal start date for sap harvest in northern late-season regions. Maple syrup producers are patiently anticipating many sap runs over the next few weeks as their winter transitions to spring. Typically, sap harvest in the north ranges 3 to 5 weeks later than sap harvest in the south. Historically, maple syrup has been made right up to the May long weekend on St. Joseph Island, at Algonquin and Pembroke regions.
- Conditions are still early spring-like, heavy snow pack (18 inches in most locations, especially north and east facing) good walking conditions on top of snow for maintenance and for those who have not tapped yet.
- Wetlands and vernal pools frozen solid and can be walked on. The ground underneath however is not frozen and it appears any melt is seeping into the soil which is good due to the drought last season
- Syrup very smooth and no early season strong taste, great awesome flavour
- Sugar sand very light and sandy
- Most producers are tapped and waiting a break in the weather but long-range forecast to end of March is cool with precipitation conditions…rain and snow.
- Minus 20 ⁰C mid-week at night with bitter cold wind…wind chill -29 ⁰C
- In Lanark area, snow still in the bush but south-facing hills trying to melt off with bare ground showing. This snow was from the whopper storm Tuesday March 14.
Growing Forward 2 – funding announcements
The Growing Forward 2 program has announced two final intake periods for several new cost-share funding opportunities for qualified Ontario farmers. Maple syrup producers are encouraged to look at the full information package for Growing Forward 2 (see OSCIA website below) for a detailed description of all categories.
The following are two examples of funding assistance categories that the Ontario maple syrup industry may benefit from.
A.11 Actions for Biodiversity & Habitat Enhancements
Tree planting opportunities in and around the sugar bush, along riparian areas and on surrounding farmland can qualify for GF 2 assistance, in addition to the Forests Ontario tree planting incentive program, 50 Million Trees Program, that is currently offered for qualifying Ontario landowners.
A.15 Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Improvements in the sugar house, such as, upgrade to a more fuel-efficient evaporator to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, upgrade of reverse osmosis equipment to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, or more efficient pumps that will contribute to the reduction of emissions in Canada. Greenhouse gas emissions are a serious global issue and we all need to tackle this problem together.
Again, for more information pick up a copy of the Growing Forward 2 information package, or visit the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association website at: http://www.ontariosoilcrop.org