Climate change affects maple syrup producers Parker's Maple Barn employee Kyle Gay pours maple tree sap into a larger bucket, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, in Brookline, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Climate change affects maple syrup producers
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New Hampshire's maple syrup producers say they are feeling the impact of climate change. Winters have become warmer. The frigid nights that are so critical to their business have become fewer.
 
Producers joined climate experts and Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire to talk about the state's changing climate and how it is affecting one of the state's most important industries.
 
Some producers talked of seeing a steep drop in the amounts of sap they are getting. Others are dealing with another trend attributed to warmer temperatures.  It is where the sap goes up to the top of the trees rather than down to taps. Others complained about a drop in the sugar content of their sap.
 
"When I purchased the farm in 2000, "I was getting 75 gallons of sap," said Ray LaRoche of LaRoche Farm in Durham. "With the environmental changes we've been seeing, it's down to 15 gallons. That's a dramatic loss for us. And I don't know what to do about it."
 
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont produced 3.78 million gallons of syrup in 2016. That is according to a Northeast maple syrup production statistics service run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vermont is the clear leader. The state produced more than 47 percent of the country's maple syrup.
 
Sen. Hassan said the state's changing climate can have dramatic effects on the natural resources that "define us as a state and are critical to our economy, our environment, and our way of life in New Hampshire."
 
"Unfortunately, we are already seeing the real impacts of climate change on our economy - including on our maple syrup and ski industries," she said, referring to warmer winters and a decline in snow cover.
 
The ideal temperatures for sap production are in the 20s at night and 30s and 40s during the day. When the climate is in the 50s and 60s during the day and the nights stay warm, sap runs not down to the taps, but to the tops of the trees. It causes the tree to bloom. That can lead to a cloudy and off-tasting product.
 
"The other day we had a nice 50-degree day which is kind of the new normal but still not normal," said Jeff Moore of Windswept farm. "One of the challenges we've had to start weighing is when do we actually tap because putting a tap into a tree is a wound, the trees naturally act to try to compartmentalize that wound and wall it off."
 
The longer the tap has been exposed to the environment, the sooner the tree is going to wall it off, Moore said.
 
"When I was growing up," he added, "you didn't want to tap too early, because if you tapped too early you'd miss all of the good weather at the end of the season, when most of your sap is running. So that gets a little more challenging now."
 
But despite the challenges, some producers and experts at the University of New Hampshire say technological fixes are helping the industry adapt - and even extend the season.
 
"Climate change is man-made. And that's the good news," said Cameron Wake, who leads a research program at the University of New Hampshire that's investigating regional climate change. "Because if we caused the problem, we can fix the problem."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why can't growers compensate for change in climate?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • McKenzieJ-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:39 p.m.

    Growers can't compensate for the change in the climate because the temperatures are warmer. When the temperatures get warmer the sap rises to the top of the tree and produces blossoms. Unlike the reaction that happens when sap gets hot, if it is cold the sap will sink to where it can be harvested.

  • KatieB-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:40 p.m.

    I think that this is something that we might need to start worrying about because these are peoples lively hoods that are being effected.

  • TannerY-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:40 p.m.

    It is sad to see that even climate change is affecting maple syrup production. I would have not expected maple syrup to be affected bye the climate change.

  • ZoeyF-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:41 p.m.

    The growers can not compensate for change in climate because when the weather gets warmer the sap goes up instead of down like it is supposed to do.

  • CaisonH-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:41 p.m.

    The growers can't compensate to the warmer weather because the climate is getting to warm for them to produce enough syrup. And nobody can change the climate of the world, unless we try to fix the issue of global warming.

  • LeighanB-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:42 p.m.

    The producers cannot compensate for the change in climate because the weather is warming. As the weather warms, the sap will move to the top of the trees instead of running down them. The trees will also bloom to early causing a "cloudy and off-tasting product".

  • SkielyJ-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:42 p.m.

    Growers cant compensate for change in climate because when it is warm outside like it is in this selection the sap goes up instead of down the trees like its supposed to . Due to this it is effecting their business greatly and its not something that humans can change or do anything about.

  • AmandaB-chu
    3/30/2017 - 12:43 p.m.

    "Climate change is man-made. And that's the good news, Because if we caused the problem, we can fix the problem." -Cameron Wake says

    If climate change is so easy to fix so that syrup can be made, why is it still here even though people have been pushing to stop it for years? Sap industries will probably be on an all time low by the time climate change is fixed, if it ever happens.

  • mtaylor-dav
    4/20/2017 - 10:22 p.m.

    This article is about the production of maple syrup being very hard lately. Since the temperatures have gotten warmer, maple is hard to produce. Another problem the maple syrup producers are seeing is the sap is going to the top of the trees instead of the taps because of the warmer temperatures. The number of gallons of sap they are getting has decreased greatly in a few years. "When I purchased the farm in 2000, I was getting 75 gallons of sap, said Ray LaRoche of LaRoche Farm in Durham. With the environmental changes we've been seeing, it's down to 15 gallons." This shows how hard it has been for the maple syrup producers to get there maple.

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