First taste of spring arrives early for maple syrup producers

Sherry Martell
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It’s maple time again as the sweet sap pours into collection tanks all over the region.

The much-anticipated first taste of spring arrived earlier than expected this year for many producers.

“I did my first boil yesterday,” said Peter Grant of Maple Mist Farm on the Kemptown Road near Earltown. “Last year we didn’t do our first boil until the end of the month.”

"It looks good so far. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a good year."

Murray Johnston had the taps at his MacLellans Brook sugar bush ready for sap collection last week and was able to collect enough to boil his first batch on Monday.

“I got the first sap run on Sunday,” said Johnston, also president of the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia. “The weather wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t too bad.”

He said a few producers from Cumberland County, where about 75 per cent of the province’s maple syrup is made, were able to boil about two weeks ago. 

Maple specialist Dale MacIsaac said while some producers have had good runs so far, an ice storm late last week caused some damage to treetops, buds and small twigs.

“The ice storm was not severe, but we worry about the cumulative effect on the trees,” said MacIsaac. “It seems to me that ice storms are occurring more frequently.”

He said despite the fact it is early, some producers have made a “decent” amount of syrup and some have not finished tapping their trees. 

Jim Bezanson of Swan’s Maple Products based in Central New Annan had about 1,000 taps left to put in before he was able to complete his first boil last week. 

“That’s early,” he said. "For us an average year starts around the 15th of March.”

In the past 30 years there have been only two seasons where syrup was made earlier than this year.

He said while sap is “flowing like crazy” now, that does not indicate how good the season will be or how long it may last. 

“You really can’t tell,” said Bezanson. 

“Our biggest year was when we didn’t get a drop of sap until March 27 and it lasted for 15 days straight.” 

Many producers welcome visitors to their sugar bushes and look forward to sharing their trade with others. 

For people who would just like to sample the all-natural product, the annual Maple Syrup Festival kicks off Saturday with a pancake supper at the Wentworth Recreation Centre. 

Organizations: Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia, Wentworth Recreation Centre

Geographic location: Kemptown Road, Earltown, MacLellans Brook Cumberland County

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