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Maple syrup harvest flow moving slow

QMI Agency

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

KINGSTON, Ont. — This year’s maple syrup harvest is slow to flow but will be worth the wait, experts say.

A harsher-than-normal winter in Ontario and Quebec has delayed the start of the syrup season by anywhere from one to three weeks, but producers aren’t worried.

"I have a feeling it's going to be a short season this year," said Gary Gorr of Gorr's Maple Syrup in Harrowsmith, Ont.

"I think it's going to be short and sweet."

Maple trees depend on cold nights and warm days to get their sap flowing. Producers say the ideal conditions for sap collection and syrup production are a few consecutive days with daytime highs of 5 C and night-time lows of -5 C.

According to Environment Canada, temperatures are mostly expected to remain below freezing into the middle of March.

But Gorr said he would try to take advantage of the occasional warmer days to tap some of the 1,850 trees in his sugar bush.

"The trees are frozen, it's just like driving in a wedge."

Bill Gibbons, co-owner of Gibbons Family Farm in Frankville, Ont., has only been able to tap about 300 of his 5,000 trees so far.

The winter has caused other difficulties for Gibbons, who, for just the second time in 20 years had to dig sap pipelines out from under snow and ice.

"It's all suspended in the air, but some of it is fairly low to the ground," he said.

He’s more concerned about how, not when, the warmer weather will start the sap running.

"If we all of a sudden warm up very quickly, we could have a short season," said Gibbons.

"If it's a normal few weeks of spring, everything will be fine."

This winter has also delivered more than the usual amount of snowfall in the region, but that’s a plus: moist ground translates into healthy maple trees, the president of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, Ray Bonengerg, said.

"It's been one hell of a winter," Bonenberg said. "We should be optimistic. All signs point to a great season."

- with files from Ronald Zajac, Diana Martin, Elliot Ferguson


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