The Gleaner

Syrup season goes out with a roar

“It has been a very long and challenging season,” says maple syrup producer Morgan Arthur, who finished boiling on April 12. He says despite the challenges, which include having lost electricity for two days following the April 5 ice storm, it was good for yields.

Arthur was among several producers who lost income as a result of the storm which unfortunately coincided with a big run of sap. He says he likely lost between $12-15,000 in syrup. Once he was able to hook up his own generator and a few borrowed machines, he managed to get 6,000 taps into production for around 12 hours; but he was two generators short, and the sap from another 2,400 taps went to waste.

“It was a big inconvenience, but we can live with it,” he says, suggesting the season saw more positives than negatives.

Like many who lost power, Arthur brought his generator in to J.T. Sport in Ormstown for repairs when it became obvious the electricity would be out for an extended period. Zachary Tucker, who works at the store, says his ears were still ringing from the sound of generators running non-stop as they worked overtime selling and repairing what they could to help people get through the Easter long weekend. He says the store had managed to catch up on generator repairs as of April 13, but is now facing a rush on chainsaw repairs. “It all came together,” he says of the power outage, flooding, and sap run.


Elgin resident Kelly Brown says he enjoys the steam billowing from his evaporator during one of his final boiling days this syrup season PHOTO Sarah Rennie


New maple producers Laurie Ann Prevost and Roger Jr. Duheme of Rockburn Orchards were also unable to collect sap over 48 hours following the storm, which may have cost them a barrel or two of syrup. Prevost says that otherwise, their first season was very good with an average of just under six pounds per tap. Their first boil was on February 17, and their season ended on April 10.

Jeff Blair said early in the season that it was shaping up to be a good year; by mid-season, it was already clear the sugar content in the sap was higher than in the previous few years. By late March, however, producers had yet to see a big run. Blair noted his sugar bushes in Franklin were productive, while those on Covey Hill were slow to start. He says the appetite for syrup was high in the Valley, noting the opening for their boutique and restaurant on March 25 was the biggest weekend they have had since deciding to open their boutique while sugaring off in 2021. Their season officially ended this past weekend.

In Elgin, artisanal producer Kelly Brown stopped boiling in late March, having already produced the right amount of syrup for family and friends. He started up his wood-fired boiler in early February, and says he was pleased to find the sugar content in the sap was hovering between 2.5 and 3 per cent.

The sudden change in temperature this past week meant producers were busy untapping and cleaning in unseasonably warm weather. “And now, apple buds have already opened,” confirms Prevost, suggesting there will be little to no down time between seasons now that spring has really sprung.

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