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Earltown maple syrup farmer worried about climate change


Unstable weather patterns can cut into profit margins – and spell doom for a Nova Scotian treasure

Climate change may mean less maple syrup on your breakfast pancakes if current trends continue.

Farmer Alex MacNutt said that cool nights and warm days are needed to produce a high volume of maple products, but operations this year have been hampered by a seemingly endless winter.

“It does not look like it’s going to be good this year, because we’ve not had the weather and it’s predicted it’s going to be hot for about three or four days and it could be over very quickly,” said MacNutt on March 16.

Maple harvesting requires several cool nights and warm days in a row with steady temperatures, but a changing climate is bringing more extreme weather to Nova Scotia. This includes more severe winter storms as well as flooding, droughts and hotter temperatures in summer, which is already impacting farmers both in Colchester County and across the province.

MacNutt said that climate change “may not be a good thing for maple syrup.”

“Every winter seems to be different,” said MacNutt. “Last year we had one of our best [seasons].”

While the MacNutt’s Maple Syrup farm will not have as much maple products as it hopes for, the quality of its syrup, butter and sugar is still good.

MacNutt said that maple sap collected from trees on his land is piped underground to the shed where the evaporator machine is kept.

Once maple sap is pumped into the evaporator, it undergoes boiling in vats heated by burning wood, removing its water content and concentrating the residue. As it is boiled, the sap thickens and caramelizes.

MacNutt, together with his son Mark and grandson Cody, regularly checked the thermometer and syrup’s progress. Finally, caramelized syrup dripped out into a pail.

Finished product can be sold as syrup or made into sugar, butter and candies and is sold to customers from the farmhouse.

“It’s not a really profitable business, I wouldn’t say,” said Mark. “We do it for the fun and tradition.”

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