Maple syrup production for the past two weeks
The 2018 maple syrup season has been progressing steadily forward in southern regions of the province over the past two weeks. From southwestern Ontario over to Ottawa and the eastern counties, sap flow and maple syrup processing has been very active with only a few stalls due to cold weather.
In the north, very cold nighttime temperatures have persisted to deeply freeze the trees and then hover below or near zero Celsius during the day to keep trees frozen. Excellent sap flow conditions are forecast for the north. Northern regions typically start several weeks after the earliest areas and 2018 is still considered a normal season for northern producers.
Earliest areas near Chatham-Kent, Sarnia, London and Niagara report that 80 to 100+ percent of a syrup crop has been processed so far. Central south regions of Waterloo-Wellington to Northumberland range from 25 to 50 percent of an average syrup crop has been produced.
Grey-Bruce production ranges from 40 to 45 percent syrup crop. Sap sugar concentrations have improved up to 2.0 to 2.3 ⁰Brix, colour classes include Golden, Amber and Dark all having excellent matching maple flavours. A cold spell saw 11 consecutive days with no sap flow.
Quinte, Prince Edward County, Brockville, Lanark and Eastern Counties report a range of 50 to 80 percent of the average syrup crop has been processed. With lower than normal sap sugar concentration, several producers who cook with firewood have almost run out of fuel wood with significantly less syrup to show for it this year. Producers who use reverse osmosis to concentrate their sap before boiling are benefiting from this energy-saving technology
Caught between early and late areas this year, Haliburton and Kawartha producers have experienced frustration where cold temperatures during the day delay thawing until mid-afternoon, only to freeze sap lines and bucket operations up again by the end of the day.
The colour development of syrup is variable in some regions this year, switching from amber to dark, back to golden and back to darker – so colour is not easy to predict this year. Filtering of sugar sand has not been overly difficult, although the sugar sand has been very dark in colour in some areas.
Sap sugar concentrations are reported to be lower than normal this season in many locations. The average sap sugar content in southwest areas ranges from 1.4 to 2.0 ⁰Brix.
Sap flow forecast
Ideal sap flow conditions are expected over the coming week in most southern areas. Snow cover has been melted away at most early sugar bushes. By the end of next week, producers in earliest areas of southwestern Ontario can begin looking closely at dormant buds on soft maple trees and sugar maples trees for swelling and elongation. Off-flavour buddy sap and buddy syrup will likely develop during the next two weeks in early regions.
In northern late regions, including Thunder Bay, sap flow conditions will improve at the end of the coming weekend and into next week, where heavy sap runs could easily result. Buds on maple trees will remain dormant for several weeks, hopefully for a month yet in northern areas – fresh new sap will run.
Invasive pests continue to spread across the province