2016 Season Summary
For those not intimately familiar with the maple syrup business, the 2016 was one for the record books – and that is not just in Ontario, but across the Maple world – from Wisconsin to Vermont to the Beauce in Quebec.
The season began with a lot of apprehension, there were concerns about warm weather and the effects of El Nino, but in the end, it is and will always enormously difficult, if not impossible, to predict the Maple season. There is so much about Maple trees that we do not know, even relating the production of Maple Sap. I find it fascinating that not only is the maple season difference every year, but many producers across the province find similar differences. For example, last year, all producers started off the season with really low sugar content in the Maple sap, resulting in long boiling times and a slightly metabolistic off-flavour in the first boils. We were worried about our trees that year – it was our first season and we worried there was something wrong. In the end, we were not on the only ones and our season continued normally. So what made this last season so exceptional?
As usual, the season is heavily impacted by the weather, one can expect half the crop in bad year as a good year – it all depends on the number of daily fluctuations between freezing and thawing temperatures. The season was a long one, lasting from late February to mid-April – almost 2 months.
2016: a year for the record books!
Many producers experienced some of the largest runs they have recorded. Leading in the Easter weekend, much of the province was covered with freezing rain. The resulting flows on Easter Sunday and Monday were enormous, filling and overflowing tanks, overwhelming pumps and stifling vacuum systems. We had shut off our vacuums by Monday evening – we had collected over 40,000 Litres of sap in 24 hours, and our evaporators were going full-tilt. We had to rent a second 12,000 litre storage tank to handle the quantities and my brother and I boiled for a record setting straight 60 hours, resulting in one of the most exhausting weeks of my life.
In the end, it was all worth it and the season was a resounding success. We finished a few weeks later, closing out the year to a fantastic season.