How Climate Change Might Impact Maple Syrup Production (Credit: Climate Central, NewYorkUpstate.com)
Discussion: Late winter is synonymous with many aspects of the Northeast, such as Winter Storms and lingering cold temperatures. Across the Northeast, late winter is also known for maple syrup production. Sugar maple trees are abundant from the Tennessee Valley into the Northeast, but it is only in the Northeast where the climate is right for tapping the sap from the tree. The combination of the cold nights and warmer days is beneficial for the production of sap from the maple trees. With the difference in temperature between day and night, there is a difference in pressure that allows for the sap to be pushed out of the tree. Sap is then boiled off and turned into maple syrup and other maple products. Scientists are concerned however, that the sugaring season is now being affected by climate change. The maple syrup season usually ranges from February to April but now according to some owners in Upstate NY, those seasons are being cut short with trees not being ready until mid-March.
According to maple tree researchers, the maple season in New England has been starting 8 days earlier and ending 11 days earlier than a half a century ago. In Vermont, researchers are worried due to the fact that Vermont and New York have similar climates. If the temperatures become too warm, it results in less sugar in the sap of the maple trees. The less sugar there is in the sap requires more sap per gallon of maple syrup. Vermont is the biggest producer of maple syrup in the United States. The maple syrup industry is a $141 billion-dollar industry. Maple trees need below freezing temperatures during the winter, and during the early spring need a range of temperatures for the sap to flow. As the winter season continues to change climatologically, it is likely that the Northeast will slowly become the sole hub of Maple Syrup due to the maple trees down south becoming less viable for sap production.
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Photo credit: Climate Central
©2019 Meteorologist Shannon Scully