Maple Sugaring Update: It’s Warm!

As you enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures, this thought might be lingering in the back of your head:

Um…It’s February. Shouldn’t it be cold? And what does this mean for the winter activities I love?

For us at the farm, we have to think about how the warm weather might affect our maple sugaring season. Last year, we had an early start due to the mild winter. In the middle of the season, our collecting halted only for a moment, then ideal temperatures started again and we had a longer-than-usual season. We asked Farmer Sarah some questions about what this “spring spell” might mean for this year.

What are the ideal temperatures for maple sugaring?

40 degree days and 20 degree nights.

When did we start tapping the trees at Drumlin Farm this year?

Just before the first big snowfall in January.

How’s the season going so far?

So far the sap flow has been slow. This might be because of the erratic temperature swings, or maybe it has something to do with the drought last summer and the trees being stressed, some combo, or something else entirely.

How might the recent warm temperatures affect our taps?

We might see sap flow stop entirely. This happened in at least one of the warm spells last year. We need hard frosts at night to recharge the sap flow. The flow will start up again if it gets cold again, unless the trees reach the budding stage. If the warm temps continue long enough the trees will bud early, and that’s the end of the sugaring season (chemical changes in the trees/sap cause the sap to turn yellow and taste bad). Snow on the ground also helps prolong the season, so we might see a shorter season if we don’t get more snow.

So while this warm weather might be a relief for the winter blues, we’d like more winter, please! Our Pancake Breakfast could use some Drumlin Farm maple syrup!

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