Sweet year for maple syrup producers

Syrup producers gush about this spring’s harvest at Paris festival

Rides in downtown Paris aboard this novelty train were a popular attraction during the Paris Lions' eighth annual Maple Syrup Festival on Saturday. At the controls for this photo was Natalie Trickett, 8, of St. George. Monte Sonnenberg / Simcoe Reformer

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PARIS – The season got off to a slow start, but this spring’s sap harvest was as satisfying for producers as maple syrup itself.

That was the consensus Saturday at the eighth annual Paris Lions Maple Syrup Festival in downtown Paris.

“It’s been a short season,” said vendor Darryl Klein, who manages 1,200 taps in Mildmay, Ont., in Bruce County.

“We began tapping March 12 and I just finished boiling off on Friday. We had an excellent harvest of light syrup. It’s going to be a record year for some producers and the flavour is excellent.”

Wally Sallans of New Dundee, Ont., southwest of Kitchener, is a third-generation producer with 4,000 taps under management.

He said he likes the late winter weather because it keeps the maple buds at bay. Once maple trees start to flush, the quality of the sap goes down and the end product suffers.

“It was a late start and was pretty intense for a bit,” Sallans said.

“We had a few days of pretty heavy runs. And one other thing – the sugar content was higher than average, and that has an impact on how much syrup you get. Instead of taking 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, you need 35 or 30.”

Scott Blake and his family manage 600 taps near Lucknow, Ont., also in Bruce County. He said the amount of syrup produced in a given season varies little, regardless of the weather.

If the desired cycle of warm days and cold nights begins in February, the sap will run a little slower than in a late season. The volume, however, will boil down to what it usually does.

“The research indicates that it really doesn’t make a difference if the season is long or short,” Blake said.

All producers in Paris reported stretches of two or three days where the sap was running hard day and night. When that happens, tap managers have to step lively to keep up.

The Paris Lions good good weather their festival but strong wind blew merchandise from tables and caused many vendors to store away their portable awnings. Despite the blustery conditions, Lions secretary Lorne Reid said a good time was had by all.

Reid said the famous maple syrup festival in Elmira was an inspiration for the Paris event, which by now is well established and has settled on a winning formula.

“The huge festival in Elmira was a good selling point,” Reid said.

“We’ve been growing ever since. We had a good number come out today.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

 

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