Adaptive maple producers tapping into success despite challenges with changing climate and COVID

Weather

Bottles of maple syrup sit in a window in East Montpelier, Vermont on October 27, 2011. (AP / Toby Talbot)

(WSYR-TV) — New York State is one of the few places in the world where maple syrup is produced. Despite the pandemic and our changing climate, adaptive maple producers are tapping into a successful season.

Aaron Wightman, co-director of the Cornell Maple Program and New York State Maple specialist says, “Maple producers have had to adapt, using new technologies that allow tap holes to be open longer, so trees produce sap for a longer period after they are tapped. For example, with warmer temperatures, early this winter, producers who tapped in December were able to produce a lot of syrup.”

Weather is the changes we see and feel on a day-to-day basis. Climate is the weather conditions in an area over a long period of time (years not days).  Climate change is a change in the usual global or regional climate patterns.

The pandemic initially sent producers into a panic. Right when everything shut down in 2020, Maple Weekends were supposed to begin. This is when the public can visit sugar houses and see how maple syrup is produced. It’s also a time when producers see a bump in their sales.

According to Wightman, sales increased for most producers because more people were home trying new recipes. It helps that maple syrup isn’t a perishable item, it can be stored for years. So, unlike the dairy industry that saw a loss of products and profits, the maple producers can keep their products for years down the line.  

Wightman says, “Another interesting side-effect of the pandemic is that we’ve seen more people interested in doing backyard sugaring. There’s even been collaboration between neighbors to tap backyard maple trees and make a little syrup for themselves.”

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