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The sap is running just fine

By Melissa Larkin
Despite this years’ strange winter, Prince Edward County maple syrup producers are optimistic about their yield.
Concern over the trees’ production in the mild weather was of concern as the County gears up for the 11th annual Maple in the County Festival – March 31-April 1.

Ron Hubbs, owner and maple producer at Hubbs Sugarbush and Sweetwater Cabin was positive about what he’s seen so far.
“We boiled for the first time last week,” said Hubbs, “and we were surprised that the sugar content was at 3.25 per cent – which is extremely good.”

Ron Hubbs

For the maple syrup novice, the higher the sugar content, the less sap is required to make a liter of syrup. Hubbs explains that last year was a seed year, something that hasn’t happened in the County for almost seven years. Typically, after a seed year, producers expect to see lower sugar content because the tree has outputted so much energy creating seeds – 1.5- 2 per cent sugar content is typical.

He explains that sap with a sugar content level of 3.25%, would take roughly 26 liters of sap to produce 1 liter of syrup, while sap with a 1.5% sugar content would take more than 57 liters to produce one liter.

This year, Hubbs’ hasn’t seen any sugar content decline, which bodes well for production. From here on in, the success of this year’s yield, and the event, will be about weather.

“What we want to see are really sunny days, gentle breezes, and temperatures of -5C at night and +5C in the day,” explains Hubbs. “There’s no sign that the buds are growing early and the trees are still dormant, which is really positive.”

Todd Vader

Over in Cherry Valley, the Vader family is also experiencing business as usual.
They started tapping on Feb. 3rd, which is not atypical since they began inserting clean spiles every year. This practice ensures no bacteria infects the tap hole, and generally means the ability to tap earlier and harvest a larger yield.

“The flow has been high – we’ve had a couple of overnight runs, meaning the sap has been running 24 hours a day, which is good,” explains Todd Vader over the roar of the boiling room. The quality and flavor of the syrup has been good as well – light with a good flavor, which is typical for the first harvest.

Overall, it appears that despite the concern over how this winter will affect the County’s first crop, Mother Nature has prevailed – the sap is running, and hard working maple producers are ensuring it makes its way into bottles ready for pancake breakfasts.

Click here for Maple in the County schedule, events and participants.

Click here for a Google map of participants and a video from last year’s event.

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