03/24/2013 10:26 EDT | Updated 05/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Maple Syrup Producers Hope For 2013 Comeback


The province's maple syrup producers are hoping the rise in temperature as spring progresses will be steady, signalling a comeback in 2013 for a business worth $42 million annually to Ontario's economy.

This time last year, what seemed an overnight switch from winter to spring wreaked havoc on sap production, which was down 60 per cent in 2012, according to the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association.

"It just got too warm and it never cooled off. So the sap went straight to the top, the leaf buds came out and it was all over," said local maple syrup producer Earl Stanley.

His family has been making the sweet elixir in south Ottawa at Stanley's Olde Maple Lane Farm since the 1880s. Last year, the rapidly warming weather cut Stanley's production in half and his season was over after just two weeks.

Worst season in Ontario in 5 years

It was the worst season for the province's maple syrup industry in five years, according to Stanley, but he said this year's transition to spring appears more traditional.

Farm manager Rhonda Convery said she also sees a much better start to the season.

"I'm feeling great because it's been a really excellent season so far," Convery said. "We're hoping that in the next few days the forecast looks good to get the sap running."

On Saturday, Gus Garant visited Stanley's farm for a taste of Ontario spring. His grandfather is also in the maple syrup business and Garant is pulling for those whose livelihood depends largely on cooperative weather.

"Hopefully they can make outstanding, excellent maple syrup and be able to make a little bit more money this year," said Garant. "I know how much time and effort it costs for them to produce maple syrup that we love so much."

Producers need the temperature to be about -5 C during the night and 5 C during the day to ensure maximum sap yield. They expect it to flow for another month, weather permitting.

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