Monday, February 6, 2012

Maple Sugaring: 2012 Mayan Apocalypse-style

Sugar Maples, Eastern Hemlocks and others on a decidedly non-wintry Connecticut day a week ago.

Here in New England, the 2011-12 winter season is most likely going to be the warmest on record. We had a freak snowstorm just before Halloween, that knocked out the power for three days at my place, and for almost two weeks in some towns to the northwest of here (a combination of high winds and heavy wet snow that stuck to trees still in full leaf due to a warm autumn, caused catastrophic damage in wooded areas). For the next three months, and continuing this week, the weather seemed to get stuck in something similar to early April conditions, with just two brief winter-like cold snaps.

The Sugar Maples weathered the October storm just fine, being tough northern trees that tend to drop their leaves early, but I have no idea what sort of maple sugaring season to expect, if any, after such a balmy winter. The sap run doesn't seem to be starting early; we're just a week away from the traditional start and I don't see any of the usual signs like sap icicles dripping from broken maple twigs. Frigid night temperatures and a thick snow pack are some of the factors usually associated with good sugaring years, and we have neither of these things now. It doesn't look good for the 2012 maple syrup harvest, but the weather has been so far outside of normal experience that I don't think anyone knows for sure what's coming. I guess I'll clean up my tapping equipment, get it into the woods this weekend, and see what happens.

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