[AMHERST, NS] — Cool nights and milder days have maple producers preparing for what they hope will be a great season.
Producers in the Amherst area have begun making a variety of sugary treats after sap started flowing from thousands of trees.
“We started boiling last week and are already seeing some pretty good results. We’re looking forward to a good season,” producer Don Donkin said from his Fenwick sugar camp. “It’s too early to say what kind of season we’re going to have, but we’re hoping for a good one.”
Donkin’s is just one of three camps just off Highway 2 in Fenwick. He is joined by the Thompson camp, that has been taken over by this year by Stan Thompson’s son-in-law Eric Bouchard, and Neil Ripley.
An open winter without a lot of snow has allowed producers to get out to tap their trees earlier than in other winters and fluctuating temperatures has the sap flowing earlier than normal.
Bouchard, who recently retired after 25 years in the navy, is looking forward to a busy season. He has worked with Thompson for many years and considers the sugar woods his favourite hobby.
“I feel so much at ease in the woods,” Bouchard said. “I love it in here, it’s my retirement hobby.”
Bouchard is not sure what kind of yield there will be, but he is confident it will be an above average season.
“We’re really at the mercy of the weather,” Bouchard said. “If the weather cooperates and we get the cold nights and mild days we will have a very good season.”
Donkin is planning a number of maple breakfasts other events during the season while Bouchard also expects a lot of walk-in traffic in the coming weeks.
Donkin normally produces close to 1,200 litres of maple syrup from 5,500 trees, while Bouchard has about 3,000 trees tapped and will probably produce about 1,100 litres. Ripley’s is the largest of the three with 16,000 trees tapped, producing about 4,500 litres of syrup.