By Tom Collins
GUELPH — There was a tsunami of maple syrup coming out of Ontario thanks to a couple of late winter storms.
That’s how Ottawa’s CFRA radio host Bill Carroll described to his listeners the best maple syrup run that many have seen in 25 years.
“That’s how I want to die,” Carroll added for dramatic effect. “If I am standing on a beach and there’s a tsunami, I want it to be a tsunami of maple sap.”
Western Ontario maple syrup producers credited the sudden change in the weather in March for saving their season. The cold temperatures, a mid-March ice storm and an early-April snowstorm kept the sap flowing and producers happy. Ideal sap conditions call for 5 C by day and – 5 C at night.
Dan Goetz, of Shady Grove Maple Company at Guelph, called it a “weird, but good” year as most maple syrup seasons start off cold and wind up hot. This year started hot and wound up cold. Last year’s season lasted about three weeks while this year’s was almost 10 weeks.
Goetz said producers were lucky the weather turned cold when it did. If the mid-March double digit temperatures stayed an extra three days, the season would have been finished. Goetz started tapping in early February and had about 70 per cent of an average crop by mid-March, but producers who didn’t tap early would have only reached 30 per cent of normal production.
A pre-Easter cold-weather ice storm followed by warm temperatures helped turn the maple syrup season into a bonanza. Goetz, who has 26,000 taps, said that on Easter weekend he was only a few hours away from filling all his storage tanks, creating one of the best runs Goetz has ever seen. However, the ice storm caused quite a bit of damage. A fallen tree crushed a storage tank and it took 50 man-hours to fix the damage.
“Not only were you trying to keep up with the volume, you were trying to get things fixed,” said Goetz, who wound up yielding 1.2 litres per tap.
David Wagler, of Wagler Maple Products at Wellesley near Waterloo, said an early-April snowstorm that dumped 15 cm on his farm played a big role in extending the season by another week. He was at about 1.8 litres per tap on April 4, one of his best seasons ever. The provincial average is 1.1 litres.
“We like this snow,” he said. “This is what makes good syrup.”