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Wanted: More Maple
The impact of global warming continues to be seen in unexpected ways. And its latest victim might be our pancakes.
It seems that maple sugaring is on the decline in New England and New York state. The sugaring season arrives earlier and is shorter, and locals blame the problem on the increasingly frequent warm winters.
According to the New York Times, temperatures in New England have increased by 2.8 degrees since 1971. As a result, the sugar shacks are yielding a lot less sweet stuff.
Several sugarmakers (that's what they call themselves) no longer chalk it up to a fluke or El Nino pattern. They have started to seriously note the effect that warmer temperatures have on their season.
The problem is that sugarmakers have to know when to tap a tree to get the best sap. Historically, the trees are tapped in early March. Recently, however, they tap trees in February and still find they are too late to capture the very best sap.
To rule out other possibilities, maple experts say that they've done several studies to see if there might be other reasons that the sap has started to run earlier, but as one expert put it, they "are at this point convinced that it is climatic influence."
Meanwhile, maple sugaring and syrup continues to be produced in Canada, and something like 80 percent of all maple syrup comes from Quebec.
So, that's good news for the short term. But the long-range view doesn't look especially cheery.
Personally, I tend to skip breakfast, (I know, I know... it's the most important meal of the day.) so it's pretty rare that I eat pancakes or waffles. Still, I'd hate to think that all the short-stacks in my future are destined for nothing better than high-fructose corn syrup.