Snow, ice, a week of freezing cold here, and a week of mild temperatures there, best describe this winter’s wonky weather. A mid-February warm spell played a trick on some maple trees and got the sap running a bit early, but the real maple syrup season is unlikely to begin until the first full week of March.
“Some of the much larger producers have made some syrup already,” said Michel Lamoureux, who co-owns Cassburn Sweets near Vankleek Hill with his wife Lucie. At their farm, they tap more than 4,000 trees on 40 acres.
Lamoureux said the first, small run of sap during the warm spell did not leave those larger producers with any choice but to begin production.
“Once it starts to run, you’ve got to go,” he said.
Lamoureux anticipated the main season would start during the first full week of March.
Supply chains and weather
Cassburn Sweets also sells maple syrup production and processing equipment to other producers. Lamoureux said a potentially early season due to warm weather has not caused customers to hurry and get supplies. Instead, other issues in the economy are making it challenging for suppliers to get their products to customers in time for the season.
“We’re living the supply chain woes that continue to plague all producers and manufacturers,” Lamoureux said.
Producers are clamoring to get the items they have ordered, according to Lamoureux. He said it is especially challenging because so many of the materials come from China.
In Prescott and Russell, there has been more snow and ice this winter than in other parts of Ontario. Very little snow has fallen in central and southwestern regions of the province, and temperatures have been warmer than they have been locally.
Lamoureux has recently spoken with maple syrup producers as far west as Kingston and said they are hoping for a good, slow season, but are concerned about how the lack of snow will affect production. Warm weather and a lack of snow in some areas could result in a short syrup season Lamoureux said.