Monday, August 15, 2022

Sugarbush tree tappers get to work a month earlier than in the past

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Some people might have noticed that they can snag fresh maple syrup sooner than when they were a kid. That’s because the season to tap maple trees has been shifting with changing temperatures, according to some southwestern Ontario producers.

“One year we tapped as early as the seventh of February, and so now we pretty much count on mid-February for sure,” said Wendy Davidson, who runs Our Sugar Bush near Straffordville, Ont. with her husband. 

This is a change from when she was a kid. Their sugar bush has been in the family since the early 1970s and the season used to begin by about mid to late March, shifting by about a month, she said.

The sweet spot for Davidson to collect sap during this roughly six week season is when temperatures in a single day fluctuate between -5 C and +5 C, since the sap flows during the freezing and thawing periods due to pressure. 

“Once we see that type of weather approaching, and we’re fortunate now to have seven and 14 day weather forecast … we start tapping our trees and getting them ready for those freezing and thawing days, and we start to collect the sap.”

Wendy Davidson said that their season typically starts in mid-February, which is about a month earlier than when she was a kid. (

Their 32-acre sugar bush has approximately 1,300 taps, so they aim to make about 1,300 litres of maple syrup.

Rolling Ridge Maple Products in Ilderton, Ont. is a larger operation producing about 18,000 litres of syrup each season but despite their size, they’ve also noticed a similar shift in the season by about a month. 

“We’ve actually had a couple of runs of syrup already even though it’s only February and the season usually lasts till about the end of March into the first week of April in southwestern Ontario,” said co-owner, Jamie Robson.

He and his siblings were making maple syrup in the ’60s as children but began their official operation in the late ’80s.

“I think the winters are perhaps a little friendlier and less snow than they used to have, but they still seem to hang on,” he said.

Rolling Ridge Maple Products specializes in everything maple, from butter to syrup. They even sell cotton candy that’s maple flavoured. 

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