March 24, 2021 Ontario Maple Syrup Production Report

Sap Flow Overview

March is marching along, and this season has brought its share of too-cold and too-warm weather. After a week and a half of good sap conditions, the past few days have been too warm for sap to flow in most of the province. This has led producers throughout the South to finish syrup production for the season. Producers who are still boiling are hoping that the colder weather starting this weekend will kick-start the sap again.

Most producers in the South have reported amber and dark syrup making an earlier appearance, though some reported making record light syrup. A larger proportion of the crop was also darker compared to previous years.

Producers throughout the South and Central regions are concerned that the season will be over in the next week or so. Nighttime temperatures will only intermittently dip below freezing, and daytimes will be warm.

Up north, snowcover is still good and producers expect to have a few more weeks of sap weather, but syrup quantity is behind last year. In general, syrup production is down across the province.

Flavour and quality remain very good throughout.

Southwest Region

In the Southwest region, many producers have finished making their syrup for the season. Some on vacuum reported crops of 1.5-1.6L per tap, either on par or less than last year. Most averaged 1-1.5L, but some toward Exeter and Bayfield are at less than 75% of total crop produced.

On Monday March 22, sap production was still reported to be clear for hard maple, and getting cloudy for soft but with no off-flavours.

Waterloo-Wellington Region

There were some good runs in this area earlier in the season but things have slowed down this week due to the warmer weather. Producers report making 50-75% of their annual crop, based on 1L/tap.

The 14-day forecast shows intermittent nights below freezing, and producers are hoping that more sap will run before the buddy flavour appears.

Grey-Bruce Region

Producers near the south end of the region report that their season is likely over, depending on if trees bud in the coming warm spell. The season was short this year, with large sap runs delayed until last week. However, producers near Owen Sound are optimistic that the oncoming colder days will hold off the budding and bring more sap. There is no bud swell yet in the north end.

Producers have made about 50% of their crop. The grade is darker in colour than last year, but the quality and taste are good.

Central and Eastern Regions

In and around Lanark, producers have made 30-50% of the crop. The snow is almost gone in some places, while some still have snowcover on about 50% of the bush. The bulk of this was made in the last week. Cold nighttime temperatures starting on Friday have producers hopeful that next week will bring good runs. Most people have been making golden and amber syrup, and the sap is still clear. There is no sign of budding.

In the Kawartha region, there was great sap flow this past weekend with 3-4 gallons of sap per tap over a few days. Growers are concerned that the season may end this week, and have reported only making about 50% of their crop.

In Prince Edward County, some bucket operations have finished producing for the season.

Algonquin and Northern Algoma Regions

Producers in these regions report making about 20% of their annual production, but some report being behind last year. Syrup colour is ranging from golden to amber.

There is still lots of snow on the ground. Producers are expecting good maple weather over the next two weeks.

Buddy Syrup

Sap collection is finished for the year when dormant buds on maple trees begin to swell and break dormancy. The primary reason we stop collecting sap is due to the change in the chemical makeup of sap, which will cause off-flavours to develop in syrup that is processed using buddy sap.

As buds begin to swell, metabolic activities initiate things like leaf expansion, stem elongation and the emergence of flowers that will soon be ready for pollination.  It involves consumption of sugar energy that is stored in the tree as starch, production of growth hormones involved in cell division and cell expansion, and production of other chemical by-products of growth. Basically, the new springtime ingredients flowing in sap are no longer suitable for maple syrup production.

Trees develop with the weather, so buddy sap occurs at different rates every year depending on how warm it gets.

Four photos of sugar maple buds in a progression of development. A pencil and a ruler are provided for scale; the maple bud starts out the size of the graphite pencil tip and grows to twice the size by the last photo. An arrow under the photos says "good sap" under the small bud and "buddy sap" between the second and third photos.

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1 Response to March 24, 2021 Ontario Maple Syrup Production Report

  1. Barrie Brooks says:

    Hi Why is syrup so light this year? Always has been amber to dark cherry here in Renfrew area

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