The extended weather forecast predicts that thawing temperatures and sap flow conditions will continue for a few more days in many regions of the province, including northern regions. Completion of tapping in sugar bushes will be a top priority for producers to harvest early sap flows.
Freezing night-time temperatures and thawing daytime temperatures, for example -5 ⁰C night and +5 ⁰C day, occurring consecutively over several days will provide ideal sap flow conditions.
Colder winter-like conditions are expected to return after this thawing trend to hopefully slow sap harvest and allow producers to catch up on preparation.
Sap harvest and syrup processing has begun now in southern Ontario. Early thawing conditions over the past two weeks have enabled producers to install taps in many sugar bushes.
Many producers across southern Ontario from west to east up to Owen Sound, Orillia, and Perth have processed early runs of sap into new syrup. Syrup colour is reported as Golden with some Amber.
Buds on maple trees remain dormant, however the unseasonably mild conditions may induce some early onset of bud development especially in southwestern Ontario on soft or silver maples that are tapped for sap collection. Colder weather is expected later in the week with conditions that are more typical of late winter and should slow down bud development. More snow-fall would be beneficial in southern regions where it has completely melted away, at this early stage of the season.
Preparing sap collection tubing
For producers who have not begun sap harvest yet, it is important to rinse sap collection tubing thoroughly with clean potable water prior to the first sap flow. Alternatively, producers can discard the first one or two sap runs as a means of rinsing vacuum tubing. Maple researchers in Quebec report that rinsing plastic vacuum tubing is very important prior to sap collection, regardless of the method of cleaning and sanitizing products that are used at each syrup operation.
Identifying Your Maple Syrup Using a Production Lot Code
By Sarah Martz, Risk Identification and Management Coordinator, OMAFRA
As maple season is upon us remember that in Ontario as of January 1, 2018 all maple syrup must be labelled with a production lot code! This requirement will be beneficial in the case of a food safety or quality issue. If product is not lot coded, the entire year’s production could be considered one lot and all of it may need to be removed and/or destroyed. Having a production lot code on the maple syrup and accompanying records will help ensure your product can be traced back and identified.
A production lot code or lot code is simply a code that represents maple syrup which has been produced, processed or packaged under similar circumstances. This code can be directly on the label or attached to the container (i.e., sticker, tag). It should be specific to each production lot and legible for the shelf life of the maple syrup. As long as the lot code can be traced back to records that indicate the meaning of the code, any number or combination of numbers and/or letters is acceptable. The table below shows some examples of lot codes:
|Date of production/packing||If maple syrup was packed on March 21, 2017 the code could be: 032117 (month, day, year) or 172103 (year, day, month). Consumers are unlikely to confuse this code format with a product expiry date.|
|Julian Date (three digit number assigned to each day of the year)||The Julian date begins with 001 (January 1) and ends with 365 or 366 (December 31). If maple syrup was packed on March 21, 2017 the code would be 08017.|
|Create your own||Make up a code for each production lot using letters and/or numbers that works for your operation.|
In order for lot codes to have meaning, they must be accompanied by records to indicate the meaning of the code. Records for each production code should be kept for a period of time that exceeds the expected shelf life of the maple product. These records should include several important pieces of information:
- The amount of product bearing the code.
- The type of packaging (e.g., glass or plastic)
- Container sizes and number produced of each size
- The date packed
- The source of the product (especially if syrup or sap was purchased from another producer)
- Any production notes
Distribution records* should also be kept and should include:
- Information regarding the quantity
- Container sizes, and type of container
- Buyer/consignee name
- Address, telephone number, and e-mail address
- Contact person’s name should also be kept
*If you are selling maple syrup directly to consumers, this information is not required.