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New Brunswick maple syrup producers see early start to season


This year’s maple syrup season came a little earlier than normal in New Brunswick, but right now it’s bringing a lot of promise.

“We’re looking at the forecast in the next 10 days we could make almost, what I see, half of our season in the next days because the temperatures are there. We need to freeze at night, warm during the day,” said Chateau Scoudouc co-owner Eric Haché.

He says he started watching the weather forecast in early February and knew he had to be ready for production earlier this year.

At Chateau Scoudouc, the season officially began on Sunday and the plan is to start boiling as early as Tuesday.

“For now, sugar is not there like the water is coming out but there’s not a lot of sugar in it for now, but there’s a lot of sap there,” he said.

Haché and his wife Jocelyne Bourque first started maple syrup production in 2013 and expanded their operations in 2020 after leaving the music industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have 1,250 taps, a good kind of draw in the industry is about a litre a tree, that’s kind of a normal draw, so we’re aiming for more than that. We’d like to have 14-to-1500 litres this year,” said Haché.

Chateau Scoudouc maple syrup is pictured. (Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)

On average, experts say the season lasts about four-to-six weeks and occasionally can even last eight weeks, but it’s all dependent on what kind of weather conditions come their way.

“It seems a little similar to last year because we had very little snow, milder winter, so it seems a lot like last year, but it’s too early to say if it’s going to be good or bad,” said David Briggs, president of Briggs Maples. “We usually say wait until it’s over and we’ll tell you how good it was then.”

Briggs is a fifth generation maple producer and says while the season used to start in mid-March, lately it’s been February.

“Our bush is about an hour from here, my brother’s taking care of that this year, and it’s a 12,000 tap operation so we could see anywhere from 30-to-60 drums if it’s a good year,” he said.

“Lighter syrup is typically a desirable product to make other products with. We like to see a lot of that and then as it gets further into the season we’ll see further grades come and hopefully it doesn’t get too hot too fast and we can get some of those darker grades.”

He says he’s also keeping an eye on the long-term forecast and right now, he’s hoping for a successful season.

“We hope for the best and hope for cold nights and warm days” said Briggs.

“Minus seven, eight, nine, 10 at night and plus five-to-eight or so in the daytime is perfect.”

Briggs Maples syrup is pictured. (Alana Pickrell/CTV News Atlantic)

Haché says there’s a number of conditions that can impact the annual crop, but one of the biggest factors is the fluctuating temperatures.

“The growth of the trees, the water in the ground, different things, if there’s a lot of frost in the ground, if there’s snow – right now the snow is not there, but one major condition are the temperatures freezing at night and then unfreezing,” he said.

Chateau Scoudouc is open for daily tours during March break with a French tour at 1:30 p.m. and an English one at 3 p.m.

Following this week, Haché says tours will be offered on weekends and private tours will be available for groups.

“It’s a passion for sure for me, but what I love to is we do have all of this,” he said. “We have good friends around us that help us, they’re very generous with their time to help us, and also we can have people come visit, walk and see a farming industry going.”

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