Canadian Maple Syrup Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers MAPLE Act maple industry maple producers maple products maple sap maple syrup maple syrup farm maple syrup news maple syrup producer Maple Syrup Producers maple syrup production maple syrup recipe Maple Syrup Season maple syrup suppliers maple syrup workshop maple trees Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association sugaring season
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Tag Archives: Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association
Maple syrup farmers not the only food producers facing climate change
could mainline maple syrup. Ever since I was a kid, I loved it so much I would hone in on it like a wasp at a barbecue if there was even a whiff of r-e-a-l maple syrup within a 50-km radius.
Albertans back then had a unique way of drawing out the adjective “real” that they invariably paired up with “maple syrup” like they were conjoined twins. The emphasis not only heightened the distance from those phony maple-flavoured imitators with ersatz flavouring in a fructose-corn syrup concoction, it also connoted values like rare, expensive — something proudly Canadian to be treasured and measured out of the tiny jug bottles that were carefully brought out from secret hiding places in the cupboard or fridge (the jury was still out on where it should be kept).
The “real” also proved you knew better.
Today, Luc Bergeron’s Canada No. 3 dark (foncé) organic maple syrup transforms my porridge, my pancakes, and my sinfully fatty organic yogurt. Gorgeous maple sugar transforms my equally sinful vanilla ice cream, along with a handle of toasted walnuts, organic, again, and straight from the orchards in Summerland. These are simple but heavenly treats for a woman who hates to spend time making desserts — treats only afforded by the luxury of real maple syrup.
So my graying eyebrows arched even higher the other day when I read that maple syrup producers in Quebec, who are responsible for three-quarters of the world’s supply, are akimbo this spring over what some are calling disastrous; catastrophic; the worst maple syrup season in memory.
“Not since the 1940s has there been a year with such a strange transition in weather patterns from winter to spring. And this radical swing from cold to hot in a matter of days has played havoc with maple syrup production,” says a report in the Haliburton Highlander, which circulates in central Ontario not far from Quebec, smack in the heart of Ontario’s maple sugar country.
The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association predicts a multimillion-dollar loss for producers due to output that’s down at least 50 per cent in parts of the province. Quebec’s association of producers says it’s too early yet to tell how their producers will be hit financially.
But everyone from industry spokespeople to the farmers who turn on the syrup taps on the trees lays the problem squarely at the feet of climate change. And they expect to see even more impacts in the future as maple tree ecosystems are stressed with drought, heat waves and other extremes.
In fact, eastern maple syrup producers, including those in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are worried that if a cold snap follows the recent heat wave, which caused the sap to flow too early, trees could be irrevocably damaged.
This kind of extreme weather back east — where hot days are making people turn up in shorts and Hawaiian shirts at maple syrup tastings where they used to huddle in parkas while the boiled syrup was poured over fresh snow — is occurring all over the world.
Canadians are famous for giggling that they love climate change. Previously known as global warming (warming temperatures around the world are only one aspect of climate change), I remember Canadians laughing and saying, global warming — bring it on, with visions of, yes, tropical shirts and shorts dancing in their heads.
Now many have stopped laughing as they witness the gravity of the situation — including how finely tuned, carefully balanced ecosystems are at stake, with our food supply systems at the top of the list.
The World Meteorological Organization released its annual report for 2011 a few weeks ago, and although world temperatures last year did not reach the record-setting highs of 2010, last year was the 11th warmest year on record since 1880, and the warmest year during which a major La Niña event occurred in the Pacific. And we West Coasters know that La Niña, especially a big one like last year’s, always has a cooling effect.
More to the point, the WMO report calls 2011 a year of “climate extremes”.
You don’t have to tell that to the maple syrup producers. Nor to our farmers in Pemberton, impatient to get their seed in the ground as they wrestle with unseasonably cool, wet weather. Or to the wheat farmers in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan who, looking out over their tinder-dry bare fields that saw wildfires in January, are recalling the dust bowl of the “Dirty Thirties”.
One of the most terrible “extremes” last year saw flooding in many parts of the world, especially Southeast Asia where one-third of Thailand was under water at one point. More than 20,000 sq km of agricultural land was damaged and millions of people impacted in that country’s worst flooding ever.
Last spring, the U.S. saw 173 tornadoes in 24 hours — a new record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And, like Thailand, the Mississippi River valley also saw extreme flooding on some of the most fertile farmland in America.
On top of extremes like these, more general changes in climate have experts around the world scrambling.
Scientists are warning corn farmers in the American Midwest that changing climatic patterns that will bring more rain could decrease crop production by up to 30 per cent. In the Middle East and Eurasia, they’re witnessing the alarming spread of an unusually virulent variety of wheat rust out of Africa. Yes, horticulturalists can breed rust-resistant wheat, but on average it takes 12 years to do so. The rust’s life cycle is months.
While food security is just one issue hooked into our changing climate, it’s one that is so universal and palpable it makes me hopeful that policy makers and my fellow citizens alike might finally find the courage to face climate change — action scientists have been urging us to take for decades.
In eastern Canada, in one hopeful example, an innovative professor is using the maple syrup dilemma to develop an educational package for teachers to share with their classes about climate change.
In the meantime, as for storing that treasured maple syrup properly, you really should keep it in the fridge or even the freezer, no matter what Albertans do.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance writer who sees the climate changing all around her.
As we march through April the effects of warm winter weather and record temperatures in March have left a bitter taste in the mouths of maple syrup producers.
Cold nights and warm days are needed to produce this sweet surprise, but record warmth in March stopped the flow of sap as maple trees quickly went into bud.
In fact many in the industry are saying this is the worst maple syrup season they have ever seen. The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association says producers will have a multi-million-dollar loss due to output that’s down at least 50% in parts of the province.
The good news is most feel this season shortage of sap will not significantly impact on the price as previous maple syrup seasons have produced ample supply. More good news is research from the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Rhode Island found a total of 54 antioxidants in maple syrup, five of which were new compounds with several of them reported to have anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial properties.
With this great news we must remind ourselves that maple syrup is sugar-laden, making blueberries or other antioxidant-rich fruits better choices for healthy eating.
But — there’s no denying maple syrup is one of the best natural sweeteners. On top of pancakes or used as a glaze on foods like pork, chicken, duck, salmon or trout, maple syrup brings practically anything from drab to fab in moments.
On root vegetables maple syrup helps enhance their natural sugars and in sauces and dressings the sweet taste of spring is easily added.
On twitter @shalsroy claims the best way to enjoy maple syrup is through a combination of buttermilk and green onion placed on top of a salad of fresh Ontario hydroponic Boston lettuce.
In salads, mains, desserts — maple syrup’s the way to go!
Frank Ferragine is the weather and gardening specialist for Breakfast Television Toronto on Citytv, and appears regularly on CityLine. His first book, Frankie Flowers Get Growing (HarperCollins) is now available. Follow Frank on twitter @frankferragine or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SWEET POTATO, MAPLE AND PECAN TARTS
These are somewhere between a butter tart and pumpkin pie but with a hint of maple syrup and toasted pecans — mmm good! Recipe courtesy of Foodland Ontario. (Foodland.gov.on.ca.)
1 medium sweet potato, about 12 oz (375 g)
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) butter, melted
1 cup (250 ml) maple syrup
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) vanilla
24 3-inch (8 cm) frozen tart shells, thawed
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped toasted pecans
Scrub sweet potato and trim off ends. Pierce with small knife in several places; microwave at High for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, turning over halfway through. Let cool enough to handle; remove skin and mash with fork until smooth. Measure 1 cup (250 ml) and place in bowl. Whisk in butter, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth.
Bake tart shells on baking sheet, in batches if necessary, in 375F (190C) oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pecans among partially baked shells, gently pushing down any puffed-up pastry. Divide sweet potato mixture among shells. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until filling is slightly puffed, almost set and pastry is lightly golden. Let cool on rack.
TIP: Make filling in 4-cup (1 L) glass measuring cup and it will be easy to pour into tart shells.
Yield: Makes 24 tarts.
Warm weather had maple sap flowing early this year, resulting in less syrup for many producers in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association says producers in the province will have a multimillion-dollar loss due to output that’s down at least 50 per cent in parts of the province.
But association president Ray Bonenberg says he doesn’t expect the price of maple syrup to increase for consumers this year because the price went up slightly last year and it’s set every couple of years.
In Quebec, maple syrup production has wrapped early up except for in the eastern part of the province and production is down in southern areas.
Quebec’s maple syrup association has a three-year stockpile of syrup and its members can buy insurance to get them through a bad season.
Nova Scotia’s maple producers association says production is expected to be down a bit due to the warm weather, and New Brunswick producers could also faces losses depending on the weather in the coming days.
Ask syrup producers to tap into the future and predict this season’s yield and you usually put them a in a sticky situation.
“Our favourite joke is ‘We’ll tell you in May,’” said Ray Bonenberg, president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association. Even his 45 years of experience can’t compete with numerous weather variables that may help or hinder the making of our sweetest national symbol.
But one thing is already certain for the 2012 season: it’s well ahead of schedule.
“Compared to normal years, this is early,” said Todd Leuty, an agroforestry specialist with the Ontario government who studies maple syrup production. “Some of the producers out there who have been at this a long time, they checked back in their records and it was 20 years ago that they were tapping this early.”
Unseasonably mild conditions have prematurely sent trees into “late winter mode,” says Leuty, prompting sap to flow up through the tree’s trunk to initiate bud production.
In southwestern Ontario, that process usually begins in the last few days of February or early March. But this year, producers outside of London and in the Grey Bruce area were collecting flowing sap on Feb. 4 — “one of the earliest that I can ever recall,” said Bonenberg.
The return to cooler temperatures mid-month froze that flow. But with the forecast calling for an ideal combination of warm days and cool nights, producers are prepping for a busy week.
John Williams, with Pine House Farms in Midland, spent the long weekend installing taps — two weeks earlier than normal — in anticipation of local temperatures as high as 3 C and as low as -9 C.
He predicts that he’ll have gathered enough sap to start boiling, the step after collection, by Thursday.
“It depends what the weather does, but that’s what it’s looking like,” he said.
So will this affect what we pour on our pancakes in a few months?
Like the producers, Kathy Hopkins, a maple syrup expert at the University of Maine, says it’s too early to tell. But she predicts the production season — which typically lasts four to six weeks — could be cut in half, resulting in reduced volume of syrup.
That’s because snow reduces the overall temperature of the forest, lengthening the time that sap runs when it starts to warm up.
“The risk is that we’ll warm up very quickly and have a very fast changeover to spring, which could mean a very short maple producing season,” she said.
So far, though, it seems the mild weather and early sap run have made for a sweet combination.
“I’ve heard the syrup that has been made is really good — a nice, light syrup,” Leuty said.
Maple Syrup producers around Bruce and Grey Counties are meeting this weekend.
The local chapter of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association is holding its annual general meeting on Saturday.
It begins at 10 AM at the Holstein Optimist Centre.
Grey Bruce President Nick Bereznick says the meeting is open to not only producers, but also residents who want to know more about maple syrup production.
Bereznick says they will talk about the latest technology and other innovations for maple syrup production.
Those include new equipment, aerial spraying, and the forest tent caterpillar.
Bereznick says the meeting is also an excellent way for producers to get to know one another.
There are an estimated 25 hundred maple syrup producers in Ontario.
The provincial industry generates about 25 million dollars annually — but Bereznick notes the economic spinoff is much larger when people visit maple syrup farms.