19.9 C
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Maple producers now on the run

Now that February’s record-breaking deep freeze is behind us, maple syrup producers across the region are hard at work harvesting some of the world’s best syrup.

With some 10,000 taps on trees across a number of sugar bushes in the township, Fred Martin hopes to produce more than 10,000 litres of maple syrup this year. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
With some 10,000 taps on trees across a number of sugar bushes in the township, Fred Martin hopes to produce more than 10,000 litres of maple syrup this year. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
And so far, March has been a great month for the sap run.

“We had an extremely cold February, as we all know, and we figured it would take a while for the trees to warm up,” West Montrose syrup producer Fred Martin said. “At the first tapping ceremony (February 27) I think it was minus -24 and we all knew full well we weren’t going to see any sap flow that day, but here we are two weeks later and we’ve made a third of a crop already. It’s a good reminder of how quickly the weather can change, and it’s been very favourable.”

It’s all about the weather for the maple syrup industry. The season starts when temperatures fluctuate between roughly plus-five and minus-five degrees Celsius during the day and night. It closes when extended warmth causes the maple tree to bud. So the longer temperatures stay in that  minus-five to plus-five degree sweet spot, the more syrup that gets made.

When things go well, the economic impact is huge.

A 2012 study by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producer’s Association estimated the impact to top $53 million. That figure takes into account the production of some 2,755 operations with four million taps creating nearly 3.9 million litres of syrup each year.

Many of the best sugar bushes are right here in Woolwich and Wellesley townships.

“The Ontario average is a litre of syrup per tap,” Martin explained. “A lot of producers in this area make 1.25 litres to as high as two litres per tap. And that has to do with the area that we are in the Great Lakes basin and we get some ideal maple syrup days with the right temperature fluctuation. We’ve also got good soil which leads to healthy trees, and this area is certainly blessed with that, that’s for sure.”

With 10,000 taps here in Woolwich, Martin hopes to top 10,000 litres of syrup this season.

Last year was the best on record for his company, West Montrose Maple Syrup Producers.

“I always say what happens right in season has as much affect as what happens in the 10 or 11 months leading up to it,” he said. “And last year, we had another real cold winter. But it turned out to be the best season we’ve ever had. I always say, when everyone else is complaining about the spring, that’s probably when the syrup producers are enjoying some pretty good yields.”

The key, he said, was that the Great Lakes were all frozen over, just like this year. That leads to a slower warm-up in the region. The slower the warming, the longer the syrup season.

“We’re pleased with the way things are coming along,” Martin said, while standing amongst the trees, taps and lines that make up one of his smaller sugar bushes along Tilman Road in the north end of Elmira. Of course, there is still a ways to go and the weather can change in a hurry.

But it’s not all about quantity. And relatively cool temperatures tend to produce syrup with great flavour.

“The syrup has been excellent so far,” Martin said. “It looks like it’s going to be another great season.”

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Local couple take DIY workout equipment to the next level

With gyms closed during the coronavirus lockdown and many of us staying put, at-home workouts became the norm. The resultant run on equipment created an opportunity for Kerri Brown and Ben Gibson.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Council approves zone change for township development in village

Slightly scaled back, a townhouse development in Wellesley village moved one step closer this week when township council approved the required official...

Kim Mitchell finds wishes can come true

Conventional wisdom says you keep your wishes to yourself if you want them to come true – when you’re blowing out the...

The play’s the thing, even if it’s digital

Is the future of live performance digital? If so, the Elora Community Theatre (ECT) has a leg up on the competition.
- Advertisement -