With an early start to the sugaring season that took some producers by surprise in late February, all signs pointed to a bumper crop of maple syrup in 2010. But the warm weather that hit in early April put a swift end to the run. According to official data published in June and confirmed by the Table filière acéricole du Québec, the Quebec maple syrup crop for 2010 is about average. The 43 million taps managed by Quebec's 7,400 maple businesses yielded a total volume of 88.1 million pounds of sap, less than the exceptional crop of 2009, which had been 109.4 million pounds. The production average in 2010 has been calculated at 2.04 pounds per tap, falling in below the 15-year average of 2.20 pounds per tap.
“What was unique about this year was not just that the run started very early but that this happened simultaneously in many regions across Quebec. Usually the season begins in Montérégie then spreads east across the province in the following weeks. The maples in Bas-Saint-Laurent generally produce two to three weeks after those in southern Eastern Townships, for example. While it’s not unheard of for maple sap to run a few days in February in the east of the province, as far back as anyone can remember the sap has never flowed so many days in a row at this time of year! With this early start, the province’s output per tap was excellent as of April 1. But the flow stopped abruptly as the weather turned warm at the end of Easter week. Apparently the phenomenon was observed in the other maple-producing provinces of Canada as well as in the United States,” explains Serge Beaulieu, president of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.
According to the Federation, the 88.1 million pounds harvested across Quebec, which represents
30,240,000 litres of maple syrup, is relatively satisfactory, despite the short harvest period of about eight weeks, compared to the usual fourteen. However, in certain regions the yield is clearly below average. “In the regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent – Gaspésie and Chaudière-Appalaches, for example, only about 1.80 to 1.96 pounds per tap was produced. It will be harder for some producers, especially those who have not purchased the crop insurance offered by La Financière agricole du Québec,” stated Mr. Beaulieu.
A growing strategic reserve
At the end of 2008, Quebec’s stocks of maple syrup were depleted, which create upward pressure on the consumer price in 2009. The strong crop of 2009 made it possible for both authorized buyers and the Federation to accumulate reserves so that the 2010 crop, despite being only average, will be able to meet demand. Over recent months consumers have noticed the price of a can of maple syrup in grocery stores has stabilized, or even dropped. Furthermore, the “strategic reserve” managed by the Federation now totals close to 12 million pounds, which should help mitigate, in part, any smaller crops in the future.
Source: Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers