Get Ready for a Maple-Syrup Shortage

Pancake eaters should start praying to the weather gods. Photo: Liz Clayman

February’s heat wave has tricked America’s crops into thinking it’s spring — there are confused blueberries growing in Michigan, and peaches surfacing in Kentucky. But not all crops cope so well with weird weather, and one of those at risk, thanks to the crazy temperatures, is the country’s maple syrup. Some farmers say production is down by as much as 75 percent this year because of 2017’s unseasonably warm start, calling the reduced sap flow “devastating to us.”

In Pennsylvania, they say the sap in their trees started flowing a month early. Experts note that isn’t a bad thing; in fact, the perfect Goldilocks temperature mix can make for a record-setting season like it did last year. Problems could arise, though, if temperatures stay above freezing from here on out. If that happens, maple-sap collection could end “earlier than it ever has,” the president of the Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers Council told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in late February, adding there’s already “a lot of concern among producers statewide.”

The market for maple syrup has picked up in recent years, with imports from Canada doubling in the last decade, so any shortfall on the production side is also going to be exacerbated by the growing demand — meaning, at the very least, that the price of a pancake brunch, or that master cleanse, is probably going to climb this year.

Get Ready for a Maple-Syrup Shortage