Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tapping frenzy underway

Maple Syrup Producers are working flat out this week to tap sugar bushes.

They were delayed by the prolonged deep freeze the previous two weeks and now have a tight window to launch their season.

John Williams, executive director of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, said some producers in Eastern Ontario began tapping during a brief warm spell before the Polar Vortex descended.

Tapping under extreme cold is both hard on people doing the work and on trees because the inner bark can split and do harm to the tree and leak sap rather than feeding it into pipelines.

The deep snow conditions are both a blessing and troublesome for workers struggling to tramp through the woods. The deep snow will protect the ground if there is a sudden warm spell and that protection will keep the sap flowing after that warm spell.

Williams said experienced producers will never predict the seasonal harvest because so much depends on fickle weather, but having said that, conditions this year look promising.

COVID-19 has prompted most syrup festivals to cancel in-person events, including the Elmira, Elmvale and Perth festivals. The one at Perth, called Festival of the Maple, will be offered online.

The province-wide Maple Weekend, usually held the first weekend in April, has been cancelled for the second year.

Williams said people who like to buy directly from producers should contact them to determine how they will be making their syrup available.

Some will have COVID-19 protocols to enable them to sell from their sugar shacks, others may arrange pickup and a few might even offer delivery, he said.