The past two weeks
The 2017 maple syrup crop so far is reported to be of very fine quality with rich maple flavour. Syrup producers in early southwest regions report 50 to 75 percent of a syrup crop has been processed so far with more fresh sap to come. Mid-season areas report 10 to 25 percent syrup crop so far. There will be many opportunities to visit local area syrup producers to see and taste pure maple syrup and value-added maple products.
For the week beginning February 20, in southern regions sap flow was reported moderate early in the week allowing producers who were tapped a chance to boil syrup.
For the remainder of the same week in most areas, temperatures warmed excessively above freezing day and night, which stopped sap flow. In central areas, sap sugar concentration was report 2.0 to 2.6 ⁰Brix, while in the southwest, sap sugar has dropped below 2.0 ⁰Brix after starting above 2.0 ⁰Brix.
Starting February 25 and 26, many producers reported a large sap run that continued off-and-on to Wednesday of the week. Many producers were boiling syrup batches February 29 to March 1, trying to finish before freeze up.
In northern areas, deep snow has made tap installation difficult for many syrup producers. A few have just completed tapping, while others are waiting until temperatures warm above – 5 ⁰C to allow tapping activities to continue.
Sap flow forecast
The long-term forecast predicts cold winter weather will freeze the maple trees, stopping sap flow momentarily. In north regions, trees will be frozen until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week until the next sap run. The next sap flow in southern areas is not expected until Sunday or Monday, March 5 and 6. Fresh sap runs will resume next week in all regions.
Snow cover in northern areas should help keep trees in the sugar bush cold to help hold back bud development if a warming period occurs. Maple syrup producers in the Thunder Bay area can expect sap flow the middle of next week.
Reports from producers
The quality and accuracy of the Ontario Maple Production Report is dependent on assistance from Ontario maple syrup producers. The following are two examples of weekly reports received on Wednesday March 1:
Example 1. Southwestern Ontario (earliest region):
Current status on March 1st – 78% of average crop (1L syrup per tap). Brix Level: hard maple 1.6 to 1.8 Brix, soft maple 1.4 Brix. Sap was cloudy but has gone back to clear with freezing temperatures during some nights. Buds of soft maples have come out a bit, more so on South side of woodlots. No off-flavours yet in sap or syrup. Same niter (sugar sand) as usual in finished syrup but pans are very dirty and with the two-day cold spell we have time to clean things up.
Pails are not running well, bushes with new sani-tips or check values under a wet/dry system and high vacuum we still are getting over a gallon of sap per tap with upwards to 2 gallons on days where we received temps below 0 (Not many of those).
Example 2. Grey & Bruce Counties (mid-region)
Reported March 1st: Most producers started boiling on February 21st, with some starting on the 25th and 28th. Sap sugar content ranging from 2.2% to 2.4%. Some have boiled once and some have boiled 3-5 times. Good quality light syrup with a smooth flavour; one report of medium colour. Crop volumes range from 6% to 20% of a full crop.
Research on the selection, performance and proper use of defoaming products that are used in maple syrup processing has been conducted by the Centre ACER research facility in Quebec. Equipment dealers have also gained vast practical experience on how best to use, and not use defoamers.
Plan to attend the Ontario Maple Syrup Industry Summer Conference & Tour this coming July 12 – 14, in Midland Ontario. To learn more about defoaming agents, a maple research scientist from Centre ACER Quebec will be presenting leading edge information on maple defoamers. Other excellent technical presenters will be speaking on various aspects of maple production. See the website of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association for details on the summer conference and tour at website: https://www.omspa.ca