Maple Syrup Industry Feels the Heat from Global Warming


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Maple Syrup Industry Feels the Heat from Global Warming

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Maple Syrup Industry Feels the Heat from Global Warming

  1. 1. `Maple Syrup Industry Feels the Heat of Global Warming`Vermont Maple Syrup Industry Feels HeatGlobal warming is beginning to take a toll on Vermonts signature product -- maple syrup -- and thefarmers and their families who produce it.Tim Branon, the eldest brother of an extended family that has made syrup for five generations insidethe sugar house over a boiling process. But know they are doing in a gleaming stainless steelextractor made in nearby Rutland. It boils the sap, removing moisture and concentrating the maplesugar. He says he can show a production of 14,000 gallons of syrup this year. His brother is inchargeof the farm. Tim is very well known of the preparation and he is the only person who opens the tap."Its totally changed," said Tom. "In the 50s, 60s and even 70s we tapped by hand and used buckets,gathering by hand and using horse-drawn sleighs with wood fired evaporators."Tim and his wife spends most of the time tramping through the snow-covered hills on their farm, andchecking there 50,000 trees.He says the season for syrup has to actually start in the month of March where as this year it hasended up in march . He also says the reason behind this would be the global warming.~Global Warming may alter Maple Syrup industry ForeverThe crisp March air is fragrant with woodsmoke and sap. Snow crunches underfoot as we haul metalpails of the translucent liquid to a squat wooden building, where my uncle tends the fire. His job is toensure that the sap doesn’t boil down too far, but he always makes time to dribble fresh maple syruponto the snow, where it turns into a gooey, sugary mess.With this taffy sticking to my teeth (and keeping me quiet), my uncle tells stories about growing upon an Ontario farm during the Great Depression and sings along to a scratchy Louis Armstrongeight-track.These are my childhood memories of spring, of sharing in an intrinsically Canadian tradition thatdates back centuries, when maple syrup season was seen by First Nations as a time of rebirth for theEarth. Canada produces about 85 percent of the world’s maple syrup, a product valued at more than$354 million in 2009, with the vast majority coming from Quebec. The United States is bothCanada’s largest export market and the world’s only other major producer.But these statistics and this rite of springtime are at risk as a changing climate impacts the health ofsugar maples and our ability to efficiently harvest their sap.
  2. 2. There’s no immediate cause for concern. In Quebec, 2009 was a banner year, an anomaly with nearlydouble 2008’s maple syrup production. But 2010’s production will likely dip below the 2008 level($212 million was the national total that year), and taking a long-range view, Kevin Pelletier isworried.For 80 years, his family has been making syrup in the Saint-Pamphile area east of Québec, near theMaine border. They’ve been producing syrup commercially for 18 years as Ferme Vifranc Inc. andkeep a logbook in the sugar shack to determine when to start tapping. But such predictions havebecome problematic.“Spring is coming sooner than expected,” says Pelletier. “We normally start at the end of March, butthis year, we started March 7.”The story is the same in Ontario. Wayne Horne, whose family has been making maple syrup nearOrillia, Ont., for more than 100 years, says “we’ve seen radical season changes. Either winterweather in spring or summer weather in spring.”Indeed, 2010 was wonky. Some producers began tapping as early as January. Yet in several recentyears, the sap has barely run. Moreover, Ferme Vifranc’s records show a decline in sap productionover the past five years, from about 1.4 kilograms per hole to about 1 kilogram. And that’s despitethe array of high-tech help, such as vacuum pumps and reverse-osmosis techniques, now commonlyused to increase production.All of this begs the question: Why? To produce sap, sugar maples need nights below freezing,followed by warm days, but this once consistent springweather pattern is becoming erratic.Changing snowfall patterns also have an impact. Under a reduced snowpack, the ground freezesdeeper and takes longer to thaw, which delays the flow of sap. Snow cover also moderates the rate atwhich the ground thaws, which can create a longer “sugaring period.”Acid rain, which changes soil composition, is also a factor. In acidic soil, sugar maples producefewer seedlings that survive and mature, and more adult trees die as well. Smog, drought and severeheat are additional stresses that can reduce the amount of sugar a tree produces. And without the coldwinters of my uncle’s childhood, the pests and diseases that harm maples are more likely toproliferate.The only thing that producers can do is be reactive to these changes. “We can’t control how maplesap is produced by the trees,” says Horne. In other words, people can better time their tapping, usehigh-tech techniques, tap more trees and seed the soil with pellets to reduce acidity, but withoutconditions close to the ideal temperature swing from -5°C nights to 5°C days, those efforts could bemoot. In the United States, maple syrup producers face bigger challenges.As temperatures gradually increase, the climatic range that maples need in order to grow is shiftingnorth.
  3. 3. But maples prefer deep, fertile, well-drained sandy loam, which isn’t found farther north. “In thelong term, maples could become extirpated from parts of the United States,” says Tim Perkins,director of the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center. “It’s possible that theindustry will disappear in the United States and that only a few hobbyists will remain.”Considering that much of Vermont lies north of prime sugar maple territory in Ontario, that’s a causefor concern on this side of the border too.~Marylands Maple Syrup Industry and Global WarmingDid you know that Maryland has a maple syrup industry? When I was a kid, we would seedemonstrations in the Catoctin mountains at Cunningham Falls State Park, and they are still doingthem every year. Western Maryland still has some commercial maple syrup industries, and Idiscovered that you can buy the syrup up at Catoctin Mountain Orchards farm stand on 15. I wasexcited, because I will add it to the gift box that my mom is making for our soon-to-be in-laws inBogota, Colombia. Maple syrup is only produced in the Northeast US and Southeast Canada. Cool,huh?The maple syrup industry in Maryland is threatened by Global Warming. According to the MarylandClimate Action Plan, prepared by the Maryland Commission on Global Warming that was appointedby the Governor, The maple-beech-birch forest of Western Maryland is likely to fade away, and pinetrees will become more dominant in Maryland’s forests:As the changing climate after the last Ice Age resulted in the northward shift in the distribution oftree species in eastern North America, 21st century warming will very likely result in the northwardsift in the range of trees and forest types currently that exists in Maryland. Trees that need coldwinter conditions (for example, sugar maples) or are susceptible to diseases or pests under warmerconditions will retreat northward, possibly replaced by species currently found south of Maryland.Plant hardiness zones for horticultural plants have recently been revised to take account of thechanges in the potential ranges of garden plants that have already taken place...Under a doubling of CO2 concentrations—likely to be experienced in the latter half of the centuryunder the low-emissions scenario—the maple-beech-birch forests of Allegany and Garrett countiesare likely to disappear, replaced by oak-hickory forests. The oak-hickory forest type that presentlycharacterizes most of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain west of the Chesapeake is likely to transition toan oak-pine forest.I was quoted in the Frederick News-Post about the changes in hardiness zones a few weeks agobecause I also write a blog about global warming and Maryland called "local warming", and one ofthe commenters called me an idiot:Shannon Moore said "Global Warming is already being felt. "Our climate is warmer," she said."Where we used to get snow, we get rain. Weve changed our hardiness zones. That affectseverything." I guess this idiot didnt hear the weather forecast for our area this weekend. Im alsoguessing she wasnt present for the past couple winter storms weve already had this FALL. Maybe
  4. 4. she didnt even see the latest on the scam produced by Al Gore about Global Warming... Maybe ifshe paid more attention in her science classes and not to her political party of choice she would havea better understanding of how the Earth and Weather goes through cycles. This is nature people. Ithappens.Suffice to say, I have paid a lot of attention to my science classes! I thought this was funny and didnttake it personally. But it does remind me that there are many people out there who do not believe thatGlobal Warming is occuring, and this mindset does an extreme disservice to our ability to address it.The reality is that our climate is shifting, and that will affect the industries in our region that produceour food.~Maple Hardwoods DecliningAnother recent study reported in PNAS (2008, vol. 105, pgs. 4197-4202) documents that in the past40 years maples and other hardwoods in Vermont have been declining in their traditional growingareas, and marching to higher elevations in response to local warming of about 2°F. Marchingupslope is fine as long as you don’t run out of mountaintop, which is destined to happen. In fact,models that link maples to their required climate indicate that the new center of the maple syrupindustry is on the move not just upslope, but north, to Canada.~Decline and loss of the maple syrup industryWhile certainly not a core part of New Hampshire’s forest industry, maple syrup production is animportant niche market, and a critical part of the state’s identity. Visits to maple sugaring operations,ranging from small backyard operations to mid-sized commercial facilities, are a “rite of spring” inNew Hampshire, and provide economic benefit to landowners and support the cultural fabric of thestate.Over the past decade (from 1996 to 2005), maple syrup production has been on a downward trend inNew Hampshire. Assuming that the current trend is related to changes in the climate, and that thistrend continues as it has over the past decade, maple syrup production in New Hampshire will ceasearound 2046.~Effects of global warming on the Sugar MapleAt first glance, statistical analyses show that northeastern forests are doing quite well. For example,northeastern forest cover equals about 40% of the land as compared with the national average of33%.Similarly, 90% of the monitored plant and animal species in northeastern forests are faring well ascompared with 67% nationally.30 Based on these numbers, the United States Forest Service
  5. 5. maintains that “the region’s forests are healthy and productive.” Despite the rosy outlook that thesenumbers present, there is cause for concern. The devastating effects of global warming onnortheastern forests, and specifically on the sugar maple, are already quite apparent. If the trends ofwarming and increasing carbon dioxide emissions continue unchanged, the complete loss of thenortheastern sugar maple and the resulting economic fallout are inevitable consequences that willparalyze the New England community in the very near future.Even by the federal government’s conservative estimates, “greenhouse gas buildups are alreadyhaving serious consequences [on northeastern forests] . . . [s]pecies are shifting range, forest densityis increasing, and disturbance regimes are changing.” Further, the Forest Service notes the followingproblems that global warming may have on northeastern forests: “longer growing season[s], [m]oreatmospheric carbon dioxide, spurring plant growth, [s]pecies change . . . [including] less maple,[m]ore frequent extreme weather events, unseasonable freezes or thaws, droughts, ice storms, morewildfires, greater incidence and severity of insect and disease attacks, [and] shifts in birdpopulations.”Although the preceding list is a starting point for discussion of the threat that global warming posesto northeastern forests, a more in-depth analysis of the particularized effects of global warming onthe sugar maple will provide a better understanding of how these threats truly impact a species on theground level.From a scientific standpoint, the sugar maple faces a multifaceted attack from global warming. First,climatic warming threatens the continued existence of the sugar maple. Warming annualtemperatures result in northward redistribution of sugar maples, pushing the species out of NewEngland and into Canada over time. Since 1895, New England has warmed by 0.7°F with winterswarming more than summers. The greatest observed warming in the region has occurred in thenorthernmost states of New Hampshire and Vermont. The New England Regional Assessment,published in 2001, suggests a likely warming of 6 to 10°F over the next century in the northeasternUnited States.Warmer winters, which are shorter temporally because of increasing temperatures, directly affect thesugar maple’s ability to survive because the species is genetically adapted to specific temperaturesand growing season lengths.Further, “mild[er] temperatures allow insects and diseases to flourish and permit the introduction ofexotics not previously found in the region.”This is exemplified by the recent increase in the prevalence of pear thrips and forest tent caterpillars,which attack sugar maple foliar buds and affect the tree’s photosynthesis process.Thus, the sugar maple is rapidly being forced to evolve to meet new temperature demands in order tosurvive altered growing seasons, while simultaneously having to combat the increased numbers ofinsects, diseases, and exotic species.
  6. 6. Although slowly-occurring evolution is inevitable, climate-forced evolution is detrimental to thesugar maple because the species is not equipped to adapt to the rapid changes in the surroundingenvironment.The demands on the sugar maple resulting from new plant and animal species moving into the sugarmaple’s territory also make it difficult for the sugar maple to survive in its historical range.In addition to increasing temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns are harming the sugarmaple’s ability to regenerate its stands.Sugar maples, like many other tree species, depend on relatively stable precipitation from year toyear for growth and for consistent photosynthesis.Due to global warming processes, however, annual precipitation rates in the Northeast are no longerstable.In 1988, a severe drought affected sugar maple health for two years because of the lack of actualprecipitation and also because drought presents the opportunity for secondary insect attacks leadingto extended pest outbreaks.Alterations in snow and ice patterns are also of concern because less snow cover leads to moresevere root injury during freezing periods in the winter.Ice storms, which are becoming more common in the Northeast, cause extensive damage to sugarmaples because of the tree’s inflexible branches.In 1998, for example, ice storms caused “moderate to severe damage on 22% of northeastern sugarmaples . . . includ[ing] direct structural damage” on many of the observed trees.As the sugar maple attempts to cope with more unstable annual precipitation levels, it must alsoadapt to the higher incidence of “extreme weather events” such as droughts, ice storms, and floods,which are becoming much more frequent due to global warming.Lastly, observable changes in many indirect climatic mechanisms threaten the sugar maple’scontinued existence.Air quality, for example, has a great impact on forest health generally and on sugar maple healthspecifically because warmer, drier summers lead to higher amounts of ground level ozone that candamage leaves.Acid precipitation presents a different problem whereby calcium and magnesium are leached fromthe soil allowing harmful elements such as aluminum to damage a sugar maple’s root system.As discussed briefly above, increased levels of salt used on roadways to melt ice and the associatedrunoff is detrimentally affecting sugar maple health as the forest soils near roads are becoming lessnutrient-rich.
  7. 7. Therefore, the sugar maple faces a steep uphill battle in order to survive given the rapidenvironmental consequences of global warming.If the species fails to outpace climatic alterations, which is likely considering the gradual pace ofevolution, New England could be the setting of a cultural and economic shock in the very nearfuture.How significantly will global warming affect the forest-based economies of northeastern states?Starting with the maple syrup industry, the current trends show the sharp decline of maple syrupproduction in the northeastern United States as a percentage of worldwide production from 80% inthe 1950s to 20% today.As warming increases, the range of the sugar maple will push farther northward into Canada,resulting in even larger declines in the United States syrup market. A “successful maple syrup seasonin New England depends on the proper combination of freezing nights, with temperatures below25°F, and warm daytime temperatures, with temperatures greater than 40°F.”48 In the past decade,however, warming attributed to global warming has led to much earlier season starts for tapping thesugar maples, leading to “reduced sap flow, a shorter tapping season, and a lower grade product.”Typical tapping seasons last for thirty days with good sap runs for up to twelve days, but recentlysome tapping seasons have been whittled down to fifteen days with good sap runs for only two tothree days.According to “current modeling efforts . . . changes in climate could potentially remove the sugarmaple from the New England region.”This climatic and economic crunch is being felt by those involved in the sugar maple industry asnortheastern farmers are noticing the heavy devastation of global warming on their livelihood.If this trend continues unabated, the maple syrup industry and its cultural way of northeastern lifewill be lost forever.Global warming will have substantial impacts on other sectors of the northeastern economy inaddition to the maple syrup industry. The timber manufacturing industry in the Northeast accountsfor 90,000 jobs and $15.5 billion in annual revenue. Although precise estimates of the sugar maple’stimber value are not available, the sugar maple is an important hardwood used for sawtimber and itsdisappearance would result in significant job loss and reduction in revenue.53 Similarly, the tourismand recreation industries will be directly affected as fall colors continue to diminish in quality.The decline in leaf color quality has already begun, which is evidenced by the lack of vivid reds,oranges, and yellows in a “mediocre 2004, terrible 2005, and pretty bad 2006.”If global warming continues at current rates, experts warn that the region’s once glorious autumnalforest leaf displays could disappear altogether in as little as 100 years.” Leaf viewing tourism brings3.4 million visitors to Vermont each year and results in $364 million of local revenue, but these
  8. 8. numbers are likely to decline as the gorgeous hues dwindle. Although complete destruction of thenortheastern sugar maple is not inevitable, current scientific data illustrates the need to act quickly toprotect this important species. The loss of the sugar maple would be tragic for many reasons.First, this loss would result in the disappearance of a species that predominates healthy northeasternforests and provides an invaluable habitat for other plants and animals.Second, it would trigger the collapse of the maple syrup industry and place severe economicstrain on the timber, tourism, and recreation industries.Lastly, it would result in the complete destruction of the picturesque and idyllic New England wayof life.~Wine 2 HotGlobal Warming is DESTROYING the Wine Industry Warming Destroying Maple Sugar Industry Warming and New England’s White Mountains Warming Impacts in USA CLIMATE CHAOSand the DESTRUCTION of the POOR ENERGY INTELLIGENCEMore Jobs, Economic Progress, Clean EnvironmentWhy be Stupid?
  9. 9. FREE subscription to a Solar Magazine for your School Library Internal Combustion; by Edwin Black Warming Economic Impacts on Tanzania and Deforestation Warming Impacts on Uganda - Integral Farm-HouseholdManagement Impact of Global Warming on Coffee Production Warming Mitigation Practitioner’s Handbook to Mainstream Global Warming Adaptation for Agriculture
  10. 10. Africa - Up in Smoke - Global Warming Vulnerability for Global Warming Adaptation Agriculture - Providing Food Security, Mitigating Global Warming Agriculture and the Global Food Supply Investing in Natural Capital Agriculture and Food Security in Africa Agriculture for IMPROVED Food Security in Africa
  11. 11. Organic agriculture and Global Warming Agriculture - a Guide to Global Warming and Food Security Solutions to Global Warming and Food Security Agriculture: Mitigating Climate Change, Providing Food Security & Self-Reliance Capital: The New Political Imperative Sustainable Agriculture Green Economy Initiative
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  13. 13. African Americans and Global Warming at a Cross Roads - How to Feed the World Without Destroying It and Sustainable Development and Church: How Global Warming Will Impact Core Church Ministries and Poverty Earth Day Sunday Resource Justice of Creation: A Call for Climate Justice Wariming Impact on Food Security in the Pacific - Vanuatu Warming Impacts on the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals Warming Impact on Nepal Warming Mitigation in Pastoralism Dry Lands
  14. 14. How Will Global Warming Impact World Food Supplies? Climate Launches East Africa Appeal for Starving PeopleDrought is Killing People, Food Prices Soar a Green Economy Agriculture - Organic Berry Farm increase in Plant GrowthGrowing Solutionshttp://growingsolutions.comProperly prepared compost tea is an excellent soil builder and organic fertilizer.Some Compost Teas may reduce or eliminate various plant pests and diseases.SoilSoup Compost Teahttp://soilsoup.comSoilSoup Compost Tea is an excellent soil builder and organic fertilizer.Soil Soup is very easy to handle and use.Remineral your Soilhttp://remineralize.orgSoil Regeneration with Volcanic Rock Dust Rock Dust added to soil can double the plant or lawn growth.Effective Micro-Organisms Micro-Organisms properly combined with Volcanic Rock Dust can increase product ivy by200 percent to 400 percent.
  15. 15. In Thailand, soil properly treated increased productivity by over 400 percent.VermiCohttp://vermico.combook: Worms Eat My Garbage; by Mary Appelhof Compost is an excellent soil builder and organic fertilizer.Worm Compost breaks down slowly in soil, where there is much rain or lawn watering.Chemical fertilizers, which are made from Fossil Fuels, will wash out of the soil quickly and pollutesurrounding areas, causing fish kills and making drinking water unsafe.Worm Tea may reduce or eliminate various plant pests and diseases.Also, various worms added to soil, will increase its productivity.Epridahttp://eprida.comBiochar - Carbon Soils - CharcoalBiochar is an excellent soil builder.Biochar can dramatically reduce the amount of fertilizers and water needed, and greatly increase soilproductivity.Soils in the Amazon Jungles, to which Biochar was added several hundred years ago, are still veryproductive today.Thus, one treatment of certain types of biochars may last hundreds of years.Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World; by Paul Stamets The One Straw Revolution; by Masanobu Fukuoka Users Guide to Permaculture; by Rosemary Morrow Holzers Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening;by Sepp Holzer Cataloge of BooksAcresUSA carries many books, DVDs and other materials about successful organic gardening,
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  18. 18. Fly traps POLLUTION and RECYCLING with Effective Microorganismsbook: Our Future Reborn: EM Technology Changes The World; by Teruo Higa Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World; Paul Stamets Up Oil Spillshttp://fungi.comWORM Composting and RECYCLING Technologiesbook: Worms Eat My Garbage; by Mary Appelhof http://wormdigest.orgMore Books about Worm Technologieshttp://wormbooks.com GARDENING and Greenhouseshttp://www.growingedge.comhttp://carbon.orgbook: Hobby Hydroponics; by Howard M. Resh GARDENINGbook: Aquaponic Food Production: growing fish and vegetables for food and profit; by Rebecca LNelsonhttp://www.backyardaquaponics.com Aquaponics: A Guide to Building an Aquaponic System; by Joel Malcolm Aquaponics Magazine
  19. 19. Aquaponics Journal HEIRLOOM - search "organic seeds"~For more information, please contact local gardeners and farmers who specialize in Organicgardening, Permaculture gardening, Biodynamic gardening, Japanese Kyusei Nature gardening -Shizen Nouhou, Biointensive gardening, Heirloom gardening-Heritage Seeds, Lasagna gardening,Square Foot gardening, Vertical gardening, Wall and Fence gardening, Roof Top and Balconygardening, Indoor gardening with LED Grow Lights and, Micro Greens gardening,Windowsill gardening, Container gardening, Keyhole gardening, Organic Aquaponics gardening,African Bag Gardens, No Dig gardening, Agroforestry gardening, Israeli Greenhouses Technologyfor Hot Climates, Organic Hydroponics gardening and Gardening Therapy.Gardening is micro-climate specific. These means that local gardeners might know of gardeningtechniques and resources which are helpful for the location you live in.Keep researching, reading, refining your gardening methods and experimenting with differentgrowing techniques.Organic Gardening technology is changing and improving all the time. Also, as the climate changes,you may need to learn other gardening techniques for various climates. OIL CARSPlant Drivehttp://plantdrive.comGreasecar Vegetable Fuel Systemshttp://www.greasecar.comConvert Used Cooking Oil into Diesel Fuel of Using Vegetable Oil CarsConverting your Diesel Engine to Vegetable Oil
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  21. 21. DVD: FUELhttp://thefuelfilm.comGrease University to FOREVER Super Power Breathing: For Super Energy, High Health & Longevity, by Patricia Bragg Local FOOD BANK Needs YouPlease help. Thank YOU!http://foodbank77.insanejournal.comhttp://nielzekock.insanejournal.comhttp://food2bank.insanejournal.comGLEANER GROUPSPlease setup a Gleaner Group in your Local area for Foodbanks and Soup Kitchens, etc.http://glean4food.insanejournal.com God ~ Be Thankful ~ Forgive ~ Receive the Blessings ~ Give God the Glory~Proverb:A good person leaves an inheritance to their children’s children.What kind of inheritance are you leaving?
  22. 22. ~Please email this web site to friends and others who are concerned about our childrens future and ourgrandchildrens future.Thank you for all of your help.~