Going with the flow
Man plans and God laughs. Or, as every maple syrup producer knows, Mother Nature rules. That is why making predictions about sugar season is akin to making long-term weather forecasts. Sap was running and was on the boil last weekend as the 2019 production season kicked into full swing. The flow has been typically unpredictable, notes Nicholas Souligny as he watches boiling syrup pour from a super-efficient evaporator at Erablière Souligny near Dunvegan. “It’s either strong or nothing,” adds Mr. Souligny.
The sugar operation started by his grandfather Laurent Souligny, and Laurent’s brother, Germain, produced its first batch February 22 last year.
“It’s a month later than last year,” adds Nicholas Souligny.
Cold nights and warm days are required to get the sap flowing. But a fluctuation can halt the flow and even abruptly end the entire season. When trees begin budding, sugaring-off time is over. How long will the season last this year? Laurent Souligny looks skyward. “You never know. Nature will decide.”
The Soulignys’ “L’or de Dunvegan Gold” syrup is produced on a 60-acre, 6,000-tap maple tract of land that has been owned by the family for generations.
About 60,000 feet of piping and a vacuum system collect sap and send the sweet liquid to reservoirs.
A reverse osmosis method removes excess liquid, leaving a concentrated sap which means that the boiling process, using a propane-fired evaporator, is shorter and cheaper.
The Blyth Road operation is one of the stops on the itinerary of Maple Weekend, being held April 6 and 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at several sugar bushes throughout Eastern Ontario.
Maple weekend gives you a first-hand opportunity to see how maple products are produced, from tree to table, along with the chance to taste and purchase quality maple products.
Sugar makers are inviting you to share in the centuries-old craft of maple sugaring. Come and talk to the producers in your local area. They will be happy to share how their operation works.
Visit mapleweekend.ca for more details.
LATE START: (Top left) Nicholas Souligny uses a float test; he and Luc Theoret keep an eye on an evaporator. Laurent Souligny and his “gold.”