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Mild weather lends to darker maple syrup production and possible shortage of some products

Click to play video: 'Mild weather lends to darker maple syrup production and possible shortage of some products' Mild weather lends to darker maple syrup production and possible shortage of some products
WATCH: Unseasonably mild weather could shorten the maple syrup season and lend to product shortages in New Brunswick. Shelley Steeves reports – Mar 23, 2021

Maritime maple syrup producers are keeping a watchful eye on temperatures this week as milder than normal weather is having an impact on the start of the maple season.

“If the weather does not freeze at night it is not going to stay running and that could shorten or end the season,” said David Briggs, who owns Briggs Maples in Hillsborough, N.B., and who is the New Brunswick delegate for the North American Maple Syrup Council.

Read more: Ontario maple syrup season off to a slow start

Briggs said some syrup producers in southern New Brunswick are reporting that their syrup is turning out darker at the onset of the season. He said that is, in part, because trees were stressed heading into the winter due to a lack of rain.

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“Generally that means there is going to be a shorter season because the hole is going to start to heal over with bacteria growing in these warm temperatures,” said Briggs.

Briggs said sap collected in lines will heat up faster in unseasonably mild, sunny weather, which can also lend to the darkening of the syrup.

According to the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Nova Scotia liaison, Kevin McCormick,
producers in that province are also seeing a similar amber-coloured syrup. He said the syrup has a high-quality taste but is not ideal in the making of some maple products.

Click to play video: 'A local maple syrup producer weighs in on the 2021 season' A local maple syrup producer weighs in on the 2021 season
A local maple syrup producer weighs in on the 2021 season – Mar 15, 2021

“The warm weather is certainly a concern for everyone,” said McCormick.

He said if the warmer weather persists, the season could be shortened and if there is a shortage of lighter-coloured syrup, it could cut down on the production of maple cream and butter. He said the lighter syrup is generally used to make those sweet treats that are in high demand in the marketplace.

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The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers said it is too soon to predict what its season will bring. That province’s season tends to kick in later than in the Maritimes.

Read more: Maple syrup season underway in Quebec

Donald Kelly, a maple syrup producer in Stilesville, N.B., said producers need to see a drop in temperature soon to avoid an abrupt end to the season.

“The long-range (forecast) says some frost is going to come back and we got a little snowy weather coming so that is going to cool the trees off so hopefully it will turn around,” he said.

Kelly still uses old-fashioned buckets to collect his sap and this year that may be a good thing, Briggs said. He said the buckets keep the sap colder longer.

Kelly said he has already boiled off one load of sap, and so far, at least, the quality is looking pretty sweet.

“The foam and stuff that was boiling up yesterday everything looks light.”

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