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Warm winter could impact year's maple syrup output


A recent report warned of another poor year for maple syrup producers in Canada and the northeastern U.S., but some producers in Ontario aren't so sure.

It's all about the warmer weather across much of southeastern Canada this winter and last, which is being blamed on El Nino.

A professor of distribution and Food Policy at the University of Guelph says El Nino could put another dent in maple syrup production this year. Sylvain Charlebois says that would affect producers in Quebec, Ontario and some syrup producing U.S. states like Vermont and New York.

But some producers in Ontario aren't ready to give up on the season just yet.
"Bad news always sells better so that's what you hear. It wasn't necessarily the case overall in the big picture," said Vernon Wheeler, with Wheeler's Sugar Bush in north central Ontario.   

Wheeler, along with many other producers, say production was good last year. But he acknowledges that conditions could be different even within a few hundred miles. He says it also depends on individual producers and how new their production technology is.   

Wheeler says he has started to tap his trees now. Like most producers who are at the mercy of the weather and depend on their instinct, he was noncommittal about a prediction.
"There's nothing to indicate it being a bad year at all. It's just that it could be if somebody wasn't ready and was too late getting the trees tapped and get in there at it," Wheeler added.
But having said that, Wheeler says it's a real gamble and "you just don't know."

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.
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