By Steph Crosier
Mother Nature has allowed sugar bushes to rejoice with warm days and chilly nights this season.
Warkworth and Prince Edward County are celebrating the area’s sugar bushes’ success even with this year’s up and down temperatures.
Rob Peck, owner and operator of Sugarbush Vineyards in the county, said that sap running is determined by the weather. With the warm weather this year, they actually tapped three weeks early.
“There has been some ups and downs,” said Peck. “But every time it’s stayed consistently under zero it stops running. So far it has stopped twice this year.”
The best sap is produced when temperatures drop to below zero over night, and then warms up during the day.
“We need that fluctuation to keep the sap running in the trees,” said Peck “If it’s above zero and sunny, it is better than zero and cloudy. Snow cover helps to freeze too.”
Peck said that a good year in the sugar bush is described as a 100% year, when every tapped tree produces a litre of sap. Last year was a 100% year for the Sugarbush Vineyard, 2010 was a 50% year, and Peck believes the forecast looks good for this year.
“At least a couple more weeks,” said Peck. “I never project, we take it as it comes. It’s one of those Mother Nature things. Long range forecasts are notoriously bad so you can’t hang on them.”
Peck said that the sap will probably stop running in April and that’s when they’ll scale back to focus on their winery.
Alice Potter, owner and operator of the Sandy Flat Sugar Bush, said that even with the warm weather their taps have done well.
“It’s not flowing today yet because it’s been too cold,” said Potter. “But we’ve had some good runs.”
Potter’s sugar bush will be participating in the Maple Syrup Festival in Warkworth the weekend of March 10-11.
“It’s family fun weekend with something for everyone,” said Potter. “ There’ll be activities at the bush and in the village.”
Three weeks later from March 31-April 1, Peck and the sugar bushes of Prince Edward County are hoping to host visitors as they celebrate their success.
“We have a two and a half kilometre self-tour loop,” said Peck. “We also do maple s’mores, instead of chocolate we use fudge.”