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Some things just need to be said

My maple trees are feeling a bit under the weather, and they are running a temperature too.

We are in the middle of cold and flu season. People are dropping like flies all around me. As a self-professed germaphobe, I cringe at the sound of someone coughing or sneezing within fifty feet of me, so I carry a constant supply of hand sanitizer strapped to my backpack. I even use a paper towel to open public bathroom doors, well, because they’re just gross. At least I can try to not get sick when the weather changes. My maple trees don’t have that luxury.

When I first moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, we had over 70 inches of snow that winter. I have several maple trees on my property, so I decided to make my own maple syrup.

Maple trees depend on winter’s freezing and thawing effects to build starch reserves after their leaves drop. In spring, those starches are converted into sugars, through photosynthesis. That first spring I harvested 15 gallons of sap water, which contains about 2% sugar content. When boiled down, the sap yielded a half quart of maple syrup. It is a lot of work, but well worth it.

It takes roughly 40-60 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. I now understand why maple syrup costs so much.

Over the past few years, temperatures have steadily risen, and it has effected starch reserves. Insects that usually die off in winter are still present, so when spring comes, they will destroy the new leaves, and prevent photosynthesis. So, my maple trees are running a temperature about 30°F higher than normal, and I think they may have caught a bug.

Who says climate change isn’t real? Tell that to the saps.

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