PARKHILL — The 2021 maple syrup season had pretty well dripped its last as the calendar changed from March to April this year.
After back-to-back banner production seasons in 2019 and 2020, this year was set to be about “98 percent of average” in southwestern Ontario.
Nelson McLachlan of Fort Rose Maple Company estimated production at 1.6 litres of syrup for each of the 8,600 tops at the Parkhill-based sugarbush during a sap season that ran from Feb. 26 through the end of March.
“We’re down a little bit from last year, but still within our five-year average,” McLachlan told Farmers Forum.
While Ontario producers have had no trouble selling out of their syrup during the pandemic, those with pancake houses have tasted the bitter impact felt across the restaurant industry.
“We run a pancake house, too, but it’s been closed for two years now,” said McLachlan. “We set everything up to open this year, but then we decided not to.”
In Eastern Ontario, Maple Syrup Producers Association President Frank Heerkens said he was anticipating about half the output of an average year at his On the Bend Sugar Shack outside Chesterville as temperatures abruptly rose to balmy levels during the second last week of March.
Nearby Grampie’s Sugar Shack proprietor Oswald Linton confirmed the trend when he spoke to Farmers Forum on the last day of March, estimating he was on track for between 50 and 75 per cent of an average season. “It’s not terrible,” he added. “We’re boiling right now, and we might get one more day,” observed Linton, noting a forecast drop in temperature. “There are no buds yet on the hard maples,” he added.