Past two weeks summary
Sap harvest is underway in early and mid-season areas across southern Ontario and just beginning in later northern regions. Production in southwestern and Niagara regions report the 2019 syrup crop ranges from 50 to 80+ percent of an average yield, with very large sap runs happening in Wellington / Waterloo this past week. Grey-Bruce and similar mid-season areas report no large sap runs have occurred yet however, 30 to 50 percent of the syrup crop has been processed.
Colour class to date is mainly Golden and Amber syrup with excellent maple flavour. Sap sugar concentrations remained higher than average ranging 2.3 to 3.0 ⁰Brix, highest 3.9 ⁰Brix on mature trees having large open crowns.
Late areas of Ottawa Valley, Algonquin and Algoma have experienced deeply cold nights that have prevented daytime thawing of trees, but the sap has begun to flow. Saint Joseph Island has had a first encouraging sap run, with north shore Lake Huron and Georgian Bay anticipating thawing conditions today (Friday) if the cold wind allows it.
Most areas are experiencing difficulty this year filtering syrup. Large amounts of sugar sand is precipitating out during boiling, keeping producers busy cleaning sap and syrup pans, and changing filters to keep the fresh syrup flowing.
Sap flow forecast
Ideal sap flow conditions of freezing nights and thawing days are forecast for most regions of the province in the coming week. Heavy repeated sap flows will likely occur in southwestern while conditions for sap flow in later northern areas should improve as the week progresses.
Watch for consecutive weather patterns near -5 ⁰C nighttime and +5 ⁰C daytime temperatures for sap flow. Low atmospheric pressure coupled with freeze-thaw conditions can provide the fastest sap flow, especially where bucket collection is used. Low atmospheric conditions are artificially created using modern vacuum tubing collection equipment.
Vacuum tubing is a modern advantage that can significantly increase syrup yield, while still leaving plenty of sugar reserves for the trees in spring. Vacuum collection can also reduce the negative effects caused by climate change and the shifting harvest window, at least for now.
Maple research is now at your fingertips
The North American Maple Syrup Council has introduced their new maple research website. Hundreds of research articles are now available and is fully searchable. Every aspect of maple syrup production, including decades of past reports up to the most recent leading-edge information is presented. A collective and co-operative effort by many people is always beneficial. See https://mapleresearch.org
Lot codes for retail containers
Records Accompanying Lot Codes
Records should accompany each lot code and should contain several important pieces of information, including:
- The amount of product bearing the code
- The type of packaging (e.g., glass or plastic)
- Container sizes, and # 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.
- Not necessary if selling directly to consumers.
Records for each production code should be kept for a period of time that exceeds the expected shelf life of the maple product. The storage life of maple syrup varies depending on whether it is stored sealed at room temperature or up to several years if frozen.
Food grade equipment is required
It is now mandatory that all production equipment that will contact food including; sap, syrup and any value-added food products, be made of food grade materials. This regulated requirement has also been demanded by the international maple syrup industry for all producers.
Maple equipment manufacturers and dealers have been working hard to ensure that food grade equipment is available, and that any non-food grade equipment is removed, out of circulation.