Some producers are already busy collecting sap, while others are waiting for some milder weather. Still, the local maple syrup season got its official launch last Friday at the traditional first-tap ceremony.
Members of the Waterloo-Wellington Maple Syrup Producers and other guests gathered February 25 at Hoover’s Maple Syrup near Atwood. Farm operators Terry and Diane Hoover welcomed visitors to the long-awaited arrival of the in-person ceremonial event and the season it represents.
“Thank you for being here – it’s great to be able to host this event,” said Terry Hoover to those gathered at the farm, adding he’s hoping for a good crop of what has become more than just something to go with pancakes. “Maple syrup is no longer a topping – it’s an ingredient, so my saying is ‘it goes great on everything.’”
Producers are hopeful this season will be better than the last couple, with stronger yields. While some years have seen the sap runs completed by this point, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture reports mixed starts this season.
“In Waterloo-Wellington, some producers are waiting another week or so for the weather to move into a more comfortable range, some are halfway through tapping, and particularly large producers who began tapping early have had their first boil with the warm weather this week,” OMAFRA agroforestry specialist Jenny Liu reports via the weekly sap overview.
While the first tap often starts the countdown to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, that event will be online-only again this year. The start of the pandemic saw the event cancelled in 2020, and then go virtual in 2021. EMSF committee co-chair Doug McLean was on hand at the event, nonetheless.
“I’ve been planning the maple syrup festival for 40-plus years. We’re really sad that three years in we’re not having actual people on the street,” McLean told those at the Hoovers’. “We were forced to decide to shut the festival down and I got a lot of phone calls after that, but in hindsight it was the right decision. This year we’ve moved to a virtual festival again like we did last year.
“We have lots of things that are going to be online – lots of vendors, we have a trip to the sugar bush on there, we have sappy hour on there. We have a bunch of swag that can be purchased.”
The festival will run online the first weekend in April. Until then, maple syrup lovers can take tours at farm operations such as Hoover’s Maple Syrup. More information can be found on their website.