Maple trees with buckets collecting sap for maple syrup. Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / nadineMaple trees with buckets collecting sap for maple syrup. Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / nadine

Another early start for some maple syrup producers

The up and down temperatures experienced this winter have caused fluctuating sap production levels after another year of tapping in early.

Bill Vandenberg of Ryan's Sweet Maple in Lambton Shores said they tapped their trees in late January.

While maple trees are typically tapped between mid-February and mid-March, Vandenberg said this isn't the first time they've had an early start to the season.

"Back during the 90s, there were two or three years in a row when the season started very early," he said. "So [it's] unusual but it has happened before."

Vandenberg said they had a small run of sap in late January before hitting a lull. They had "a momentous day" on February 8 when temperatures reached upwards of 11 Celsius.

When the temperature cooled down last week, Vandenberg said there was little to no sap. However, temperatures are expected to hover around 1 C for the beginning of this week.

Last year, Vandenberg tapped his trees during the first week of February. Two years ago, trees were tapped during the second week of February, and three years ago, it was the third week of February.

"It's Mother Nature who decides when the saps going to run, when the weather warms up," he said.

While the temperature may have impacted the flow of sap, it doesn't appear to have affected the quality.

"The quality's great this year, flavour's fantastic. It's mostly golden to amber," he said. "It looks like we're going to have a great season."

Vandenberg said there are a total of 3,700 taps this year.

Also in Lambton Shores, Gary Gilliard of Gilliard Maple Syrup said they tapped their trees on February 10. Since then, production hasn't been great.

"The ideal [temperature] is about -3 C or -4 C at night and 7 C or 8 C in the daytime with the sun," Gillard said. "It seems to always run a lot better if there's a little snow on the ground and you get frost. Then, as soon as that sun hits the bush, it just warms right up and runs pretty good."

Gilliard said they typically always tap around February 15 but it's tough to know when to do so since the region doesn't typically see normal winters anymore.

Gilliard said they have about 1,200 taps in so far, but they're going to wait and see what the weather does before more are placed.

Meanwhile, Allan Williamson of Williamson Farms in Forest said he delayed tapping this year due to personal reasons.

However, he agreed temperatures this winter have been less than ideal.

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