New Brunswick

Maple syrup producers optimistic as sap starts to flow

New Brunswick’s maple syrup producers are optimistic for the season as the sap begins to run in southern areas.

Warm days and cool nights ahead are good signs for producers

maple syrup
New Brunswick is the third largest producer of maple products worldwide. (Rebecca Ugolini/CBC)

New Brunswick's maple syrup producers are cautiously optimistic for the season as the sap begins to run in southern areas.

Louise Poitras, the executive director of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association, said if all goes as hoped, the province could produce upwards of 10 million pounds of maple products.

But it's mostly all up to nature.

"It's Mother Nature that will tell at the end of April if we had a good year or a bad year," said Poitras

The sweet spot

Poitras said the sweet spot for maple syrup production is a high of 5 C in the daytime and a low of -5 C overnight.

Simon Mitchell of Dumfries Maples said he's already started collecting some sap, but there was a bit of a hitch Thursday  with unseasonably warm temperatures.

"It got a little too warm actually, for it to run late in the afternoon. I suspect the same thing will happen today because of the temperatures that we're calling for. But the coming week is certainly looking favourable.,"

As for the north, a bit too much snow is hampering some production for sugar shacks.

"Some of the producers were looking for people to just shovel some snow, to clear the tubing," said Poitras. 

"If the tubing is not clear, then it's still going to be icy and the sap won't run."

Keeping up with demand

Last year, the province was named the second-highest producer of maple products in Canada, and the third-highest in the world behind Vermont and Quebec.

To keep up with production, the association asked the province for an additional 12,000 hectares of land to harvest sap.

Poitras said the province has been silent on the request.

"It's an awesome industry because we do not cut trees and we prepare for generations," he said.

"Those 12,000 hectares would almost double our production and we are certain to sell that production."

The request for more harvesting land comes after an increased demand for maple syrup, which Poitras attributes largely to the pandemic.

"Exports have increased 20 per cent in the last two years," said Poitras. 

"Most of our demand comes from people that want healthier products and maple syrup falls into that. … People cook more and they are substituting white sugar for maple syrup. So it's a win-win for our industry,"

Poitras said she doesn't expect the price of maple syrup to go up this year, but said it won't be going down either.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton