By Chad Ingram
Above average temperatures during late winter in Haliburton County have maple sap flowing earlier than usual but this does not necessarily mean a poor season is in store for local syrup producers.
The typical syrup season in Haliburton County once ran from about mid-March to mid-April but as Tom Dawson of Gelert’s Wintergreen Maple Syrup and Pancake Barn points out that is starting to change.
“The actual runs are moving up” Dawson says explaining the general trend is that sap in maple trees is running earlier in the season.
“We’ve already boiled three times” says wife Diane. Historically the Dawsons wouldn’t do their first boil until after March break.
This year some area producers did runs as early as February. Some days in March had temperatures in the double-digits.
A good syrup season is heavily dependent on temperature ideal conditions being somewhere around five degrees Celsius during the day and minus five degrees Celsius at nighttime. This fluctuation creates the suction that draws sap which trees have stored in their roots during the wintertime back up to the leaves.
“The bottom line is the sap has to get up to the buds” Diane says. “We won’t know [how good the season will be] until it’s over.”
Near West Guilford Ken Barry says his syrup season is not on track to be one of his best.
“You need cold nights and warm days” Barry says adding that many nights in March have not been cold enough.
If conditions continue the way they’ve been Barry who is a small hobby producer says he might have as little as half to three quarters of his usual yield but emphasizes it’s not too late for things to turn around.
“This year we started earlier” says Ron Reid who started his tapping around March 10.
The weekend of March 12 and 13 Reid who lives near Lake Kushog collected about a quarter of what would be his typical crop for the year.
However on March 20 temperatures have cooled again slowing the sap.
“It’s two [degrees] right now” Reid says. “Four would be better.”
Reid says the long-range forecast didn’t look bad.
“If the weather forecast holds up we should have a pretty good season” he says adding it’s important to keep an optimistic attitude. “That’s farming 101.”