Saturday, March 10, 2007


Tony Lofaro, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, March 10, 2007

Weather conditions have been almost perfect this winter to produce a bountiful supply of maple syrup, say Ottawa valley maple syrup producers.

Warm temperatures around Christmas and early January had caused some concern that maple syrup production might be affected, but thanks to a deep freeze in February and a warm spell coming in the next few days everything is on track, said Mark Wheeler of Wheelers Pancake House and Sugar Camp, located in McDonalds Corners.
"It was touch and go there in January and if it had stayed warm for another two or three more days it would have been a bad situation," he said.

"But it's hard to say what would have happened because it's never happened before," said Mr. Wheeler, about the unusually warm spell that hit the region earlier this year.
"It was a great sigh of relief to see the cold weather come and stay."
He said many of the old-time maple syrup producers insist that without a cold spell lasting several weeks, the flavour of the syrup can be affected.

(Scott Fulton Cheacks His Buckets: Photo Pat McGrath, the Ottawa Citizen )

"The winter that we have had, you'd probably want to call it a perfect winter," he said.
As it stands now, everything is set for the sap to start flowing in the next few days and production should last until mid-April, he said. The sap will begin flowing when the temperatures rise above freezing, which is forecast for the next few days, he said.

Wheeler's, located about a hour from Ottawa in Lanark County -- the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario -- has more than 180 kilometres of pipeline to transport maple sap to the sugar camp, where it is boiled into pure maple syrup. The farm produces about 10,000 litres of maple syrup in a year, making it one of the biggest producers in the province.

The family-run business is gearing up for a busy March Break, with horse-drawn sleigh rides, maple taffy-on-snow, pancake meals, snowshoeing, and self-guided tours. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Shirley Fulton-Duego, co-owner of Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush near Pakenham, said she's ready for a busy maple syrup season.

"The (weather) conditions seem right for the sap," said Ms. Fulton-Duego, adding she's been open for several weeks.
She said the trees had a cold dormant period and now they're ready to be tapped.
"We will probably start to tap on Sunday, and that means we will drill the holes. It doesn't mean we'll be making syrup. It takes a few days to get all the holes drilled, and then we'll start."
She said maple syrup is very "weather dependent" and the start time varies from year to year.

She said the third week of March is usually when the sap starts flowing and this year is not much different.

Fulton's Pancake House is a popular destination for school groups and families. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

She said she's expecting another bumper season. "If you have a good season, the industry standard is one litre of syrup per hole, if you get the right temperatures. We have 4,000 taps, so we should get 4,000 litres of maple syrup," said Ms. Fulton-Deugo.

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