The Two Degree Difference: Could climate change impact Vermont’s maple syrup industry?

Vermont News

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) – Vermont maple syrup producers put out around 6 million maple taps in 2019, making it the largest number or taps since 1928. The state has led the US in the number of maples taps every year since 1916 and was only out produced in two years.

The state’s 2018 value of production was around $54 million, accounting for more than 38% of all the maple syrup produced nationwide, making it the largest producer in the U.S.

“Seasons that are just extraordinarily cold and in turn warm, or seasons that are just too hot are not conducive to good sap yields. Steady freeze thaw action during the spring, without it getting too hot are what produces the best sap.” said Timothy Perkins, Director at the Proctor Maple Research Center.

With a changing climate, more extremes in weather events become more likely. Such as droughts and intense precipitation events. This can greatly impact an already delicate industry.

“The transition from winter to summer was happening quicker. It was beginning to have an effect on the yields; however, new technology has helped offset that. using good vacuums, excellent sanitation practices, maple producers have been able to offset those losses.” Said Perkins.

Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont states that climate change has already had an effect on maple syrup production. According to them, Vermont maple sugaring season on average starts 8.3 days earlier and ends 11.6 days earlier than it did 50 years ago. 

“It’s a very complex issue” said Perkins. “It isn’t as simple as its going to get hotter, maple seasons will be worse in Vermont, but there are a number of different factors that are involved some of which we understand and some of which we don’t, only time will tell.”

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