MANITOULIN—Manitoulin Island maple syrup producers are welcoming the early start to their season!
“Actually last weekend was the earliest I’ve seen for tapping trees,” stated Lee Hayden, of Gordon/Barrie Island township. “It has been a very unusual winter; extra cold at times, then a thaw in January. And one day last week the television station was reporting there were record high temperatures in the Gore Bay area.” He pointed out last Friday marked his first day of boiling the sap.
“It seems to be early throughout the province,” stated Brian Bainborough, also Gordon/Barrie Island. “It is all good, but is still all weather dependent as to how long the season will last.” He said he would be making maple syrup as of last weekend.
Mr. Bainborough had taken part in the first (tree) tapping ceremony kick-off by the Algoma Maple Syrup producers along with local dignitaries, including Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes, and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha February 21.
Mr. Bainborough was a judge in the Elmira Maple Syrup Festivals Producer of the Year contest. He is a certified maple syrup judge through the International Maple Syrup Institute and President of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA). He told the Elmira Observer in its February 2018 edition there are international guidelines that are written for judging; and four categories that judges score maple syrup on. He described it like looking at a report card out of 100. Density is the sugar content, there is a mark for clarity, another for colour and then the fourth one is taste.”
According to OMPSA, “Ontario producers make 4.5 percent of the maple syrup in Canada, with the largest Ontario producer located on St. Joseph Island, Gilbertson Maple Products. Currently, about 40 percent of syrup used in Ontario is produced within the province, and 60 percent is imported.”