New Brunswick maple syrup farms struggle with production
Ideal weather over long weekend saves what could have been miserable maple sugar season
Cool spring temperatures over the weekend salvaged what many maple producers feared would be a bitter season, according to the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association.
Yvon Poitras, the association's manager, says the year was on track to go down as one of the worst, but ideal conditions over a stretch of four days saved the season for many of its 125 members.
"All it takes is to have Mother Nature co-operate for three, four, five days and we've got it made," Poitras said.
"It's not going to be a very good season [but] if it doesn't warm up too high during the day it might be able to come out with what we would call an average to a less-than-average season."
Maple producers in the southern and central parts of the province didn't make out as well, said Poitras.
Nathan Scott, a maple producer in Dumfries says despite the ideal weekend conditions, it's been a poor season overall.
The sap on his trees started running about two weeks later than usual and is finishing less than a week later than it did last year.
Each tree has only given about 65 to 70 per cent of its normal yield, he said.
"We got sap most days but we never had what we'd consider ideal conditions and a heavy run," said Scott.
"We did make some syrup and everything started to warm up a week ago. Surprisingly, this last weekend was our best stretch of the season in terms of sap."
Supplies may run short
Scott says Tuesday will probably be his last day of boiling sap. He says if production goes well he will end the season with the same yield as last year, however, he says he added more taps to his sugar bush operation this year.
"We expanded a bit," said Scott.
"Our production is the same as last year but it's down for the number of taps we have."
As a result, Scott said he expects his supplies may run short.
"Starting off we won't notice much of a difference, but as we get into the fall and towards the end of the year our supply will definitely diminish," he said.
"And we'll run short before the start of next season. Normally we produce enough and sell enough to carry us from one season to the next."
Scott says the sugar content in the sap was lower than normal at the start of the season and produced a darker syrup.
"So we're going to be a little short on the butter syrup this year," he said.
"It's hard to complain too much. You don't have that much control over it. You take what comes along. This time last week we thought the season was done, and this long weekend has been a nice bonus for us.
"So things aren't as bad as they could have been."
New Brunswick's maple syrup industry is the third largest in the world and generates roughly $12 million in annual revenue for the province.