The 2021 maple syrup season in Ontario started off like molasses.. slow. Once things started to flow, it didn’t last long.
Producers across the province say they’re seeing some of their worst maple syrup crops in almost a decade.
“Definitely the worst season we’ve had,” said Ben Tomory, Pefferlaw Creek Farms partner.
Tomory wouldn’t normally be pulling taps from the trees this early, but mother nature didn’t co-operate this maple syrup season.
“We made all of our syrup in 15 days, which is one of the shortest seasons on record,” said Tomory.
Tomory has been making syrup at Pefferlaw Creek Farms, north of Uxbridge for the past seven years.
In the past few weeks they produced 25,000 litres, 15,000 short of what they typically generate.
“Probably around 60 per cent of an average crop, so the weather came in really hot, we had that one week of high teens and full sun,” said Tomory.
Tomory says they wrapped up the maple syrup season last week.
As if the weather wasn’t damaging enough, the recent stay-at-home order has felt like a double whammy.
Now having to resort to curb-side pickup and further limitations on capacity.
“Typically, a lot of syrup will go get sold to bulk buyers in Quebec, or big packaging plants, but everyone’s holding onto their syrup this year. There’s already a price increase on Ontarian maple syrup,” said Tomory.
“We’re bound to have one here and there that aren’t the best,” said John Williams, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association executive director.
It’s also been a painful year for Williams.
He says the majority of producers he’s been speaking with are in the same boat, seeing between 30 and 50 per cent less syrup production this year.
“We had a lot of smaller runs. Despite that, I have not heard any complaints about the taste of the syrup this year. Overall, it seems to be darker because of that warmth generally,” said Williams.
Due to the short maple syrup season, Tomory has decided to make up some of their supply loss by tapping birch trees. Something they tried for the first time last year.
“It’s totally unique, the sap is actually a lot lower in sugar content,” said Tomory.
Tomory’s not sure how the birch syrup will turn out, but he’s hoping he doesn’t have to rely on it next year, optimistic for a maple bounce back.