March 29, 2007

Climate change impact on maple

Is global warming endangering maple syrup production? A study by the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont showed that the month-long season has become about three days shorter over the past four decades.

"What we're seeing is about a 10 per cent reduction in the season," said Timothy Perkins, the centre's director, who is working on a study on how climate change could change maple production over the next half-century.

If that trend continues, it could mean that one day sugaring – the process of boiling the sap down to sweet, aromatic, amber maple syrup – would no longer be economically feasible.

"You don't need to get to the point where you have zero (sap production) before people stop making maple syrup," Perkins said. "They're going to stop doing it when the economics of it no longer work."

Sap flow is stimulated by swings in temperature. At night, trees suck up water from soil and convert it into sap. During day, the sap expands and runs out the hole.

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