Ice Storm / Maple Sugar industry impact
forestfair at aol.com
Mon Jan 19 15:32:06 EST 1998
SCOTT MORRISON and VICTORIA GRIFFITH
The Financial Times
TORONTO -- The ice storms that have hit Canada and the Northeast have
left sweet-toothed people with a sour taste in their mouths by
threatening the maple syrup harvest.
Blizzards and subzero temperatures have damaged as much as one-third of
the Canadian maple trees tapped for their sweet sap, while producers in
New York and New England fear their crop could be halved.
The damage in Canada has centered on southern Quebec and eastern
Ontario, which produce almost 90 percent of the world supply. But while
producers in southwestern Quebec and eastern Ontario were hard hit by
icy rain, the storm spared key production regions south of Quebec City.
Quebec's maple syrup industry alone accounts for 80 percent of global
production and generates $70 million in sales.
Ontario producers, who harvest about 8 percent of world supply, said
they had lost up to one-third of capacity. Ontario has 70 million trees,
but producers won't have time before the harvest to tap enough trees to
compensate for losses, said Ken McGregor, of the Ontario Maple Syrup
While some producers warn it is still too early fully to assess the
damage, losses are estimated at tens of millions of dollars.
Even in good years, the syrup is a luxury item. The retail cost of a
gallon of the highest-grade syrup costs at least $38.
"The branches were just stripped right off the trees, so a lot of them
are just stumps,'' said Larry Myott, a maple specialist at University of
Vermont. "I weighed a twig after the storm, and it weighed
three-quarters of a pound with the ice, just a half ounce after the ice
melted off. Imagine that on an entire tree.''
North Americans take their maple syrup seriously. It is extracted in
February and March through a centuries-old system that places a bucket
under an incision in the tree.
First published on Monday, January 19, 1998
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