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Thứ Sáu, 28 tháng 2, 2014

Greater Toronto's deep freeze may sap maple syrup season - Toronto Star

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March means maple syrup season, but whether the sap flows will be up to, well, the weather.

“You need below-freezing nights and above-freezing days,” says Adrian O’Driscoll, the supervisor of education at Kortright Centre in Kleinburg, where a festival celebrating the sweet Canadian treat kicks off Saturday.

But it looks like the weather will only deliver half of what’s necessary.

“Below-freezing nights are no problem whatsoever,” says Geoff Coulson of Environment Canada, who predicted Friday’s temperature of -13C would rise to only -7C by Saturday morning.

But it’s expected the mercury will struggle to reach a high of 0C on Saturday, and the forecast calls for a couple of centimeters of snow to fall in Toronto from a storm system sliding west to east through Northern Ontario, he says.

Sap, the starch the tree stored up last year through photosynthesis, flows best when the weather is a little warmer.

O’Driscoll says the centre is optimistic about the coming maple syrup season, which hangs on what Mother Nature throws out.

“One question is whether the ice storm has affected the maple syrup production,” he says. But “it won’t this year, because the trees would have made their sugars and stored the starch before the ice storm.”

The maple syrup festival runs at Kortright and in Bruce’s Mill in Stouffville from March 1 to April 6.

Together, the centres annually welcome 50,000 people to maple syrup demonstrations. They show how the aboriginal peoples, who introduced settlers to the sweet treat and methods for making it, hollowed out trees as receptacles and dumped in hot rocks to help evaporate the water — and how Canadian pioneers began using cast-iron kettles for the same task.

Staff will also show how sap — which is 97 per cent water — is reduced to syrup today using a modern evaporator. It takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup.

Festival-goers can also enjoy horse-drawn wagon and pony rides, watch magic shows and take part in face painting.

Attending the festivities “is a family tradition for many people,” says O’Driscoll. Traditions surrounding the maple leaf are “sort of what Canada is about. And it’s a way to bring in and welcome the spring.”

Whether we can put the welcome mat out in March will, once again, be dependent on the weather. Below-normal temperatures are expected for most of the month.

“Saturday is better than the days that follow, when we’re back to the deep freeze,” says Coulson. Overnight temperatures next week are supposed to hover between -16C and -20C; daytime highs from -5C to -9C.

Forecast models for next weekend show more seasonal temperatures, but if they come, they’ll be accompanied by a large-scale storm.

“I haven’t been the bearer of any good news lately,” Coulson says.

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