One of my favorite events of the year is almost here, and I don’t mean opening day. Every year at the end of March, Mainers have a sweet opportunity to visit one of more than 500 sugar houses on Maine Maple Sunday weekend. This year it falls on March 25 and 26.

Our family has been visiting Maine sugar shacks for over three decades. When we started visiting sugar houses back in the 1990s it took about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. Today, due to climate change, the sugar content in the sap is lower and it takes about 60 gallons for that one gallon.

Shorter seasons that start earlier every year because of the warmer winters have been observed and documented by the North American Maple Syrup Council. Stressors to sugar maples that lead to death, such as prolonged drought and invasive pests, are also a result of a changing climate.

This year, the syrup production has been reported to be good, despite it being an “odd year” for weather. But the improved production is likely the result of more advanced farming techniques like vacuum tubing and keeping the tap holes clean. Unfortunately, technology will only be able to take us so far and production is likely to dwindle in the coming decades. So, as you’re sampling your tasty treat, ask the producer how his operation has been impacted by climate change – and how he plans to cope with it in the future.

William Weber
Portland Climate Action Team

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: