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Early warm spell a good sign for maple syrup farmers

Whitby mayor and CLOCA chair Don Mitchell takes part in the ceremonial first tapping at last year’s Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival. Warm temperatures at the end of February means that the trees at the site are ready to start giving up their sap once again.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A recent brush with spring is good news not only for residents looking to shed winter’s freezing embrace, but also for the sugar maples standing tall in Purple Woods Conservation Area.

The temperatures at end of February, with some days reaching into the double digits, had many residents hoping it meant the end of winter. And while the parks filled up and sweater-weather returned, a team of farmers was in the bush aiming to take full advantage of a possible early maple syrup season.

In order for sap to flow successfully, maple trees need warm temperatures during the day, followed by below freezing temperatures at night. With the recent flux in temperatures over recent winters due to factors such as climate change and stronger El Nino effects, many have feared that alterations could have severe negative impacts on the maple syrup industry.

At the Purple Wood Conservation Area, Gord Geissberger, spokesperson with the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA), says the work was in full swing.

“This warm spell has made a few people rush to get the lines up,” he states in an emailed statement in late February. “It looks like we’ll get a run in this week and part of next week.”

And as the calendar turned to March, minds turned to CLOCA’s 42nd Maple Syrup Festival, set to run over the March Break (March 11 to 19) and the weekends of March 25 and 26 and April 1 and 2.

The annual event will include access to the Purple Woods area and sugar shack along with interactive historical displays relating to the production of maple syrup and the always popular wagon rides. Visitors should also come with a sweet tooth in order to enjoy everything from pancakes to maple fudge and sugar candy.

General admission tickets are $5 and free for children under two. Tickets are available online at cloca.com or at the administrative office at 100 Whiting Ave.