Wind Storm – May 21, 2022

Like many areas in eastern Ontario, the maple forests of Fortune Farms were in the path of the “derecho” or “very high winds running in straight lines” on Saturday, May 21st. 

Thankfully, no one was hurt but our maple forests have been damaged.  

Ecologically, windstorms are a factor in the regeneration of old growth hardwood forests. The gaps in the canopy created by large fallen trees allow for the establishment of new seedlings.  Practically, as maple farmers and forest managers, we respect natural forces, but they create danger, along with a lot of work and expense!

The damage is quite dramatic.  Trees with stem defects or weak branch joints snap off at various heights while others, despite their expensive root systems are uprooted and tipped over.

There is also a “domino effect” when one tree hits another and pushes it over.  As the branches and trees fall, they land on our pipeline systems and trails. 

Clearing the fallen trees is hard and dangerous work which must be done so that we can repair and replace the tubing systems.

When you visit Fortune Farms and walk the trails, you will see the effects of this storm for years to come.

Picture of a maple tree uprooted in Ontario's May 21, 2002 derecho.
A completely uprooted tree along with other fallen trees.
Maple trees and tubing lines downed at Fortune Farms sugarbush in Eastern Ontario in the May 21, 2022 derecho.
Felled trees and sap tubing lines.
Another picture of maple trees toppled in the wind storm of May 2022 that whipped across Ontario and Quebec.

Tapping Underway

With over a foot or 30 cm of snow, snowshoes are needed to move about the sugar bush this year. Snow in some parts of New Brunswick is over ten feet or 300 cm and we are glad we don’t have to contend with those conditions. It’s a reminder of the winter of 1971-72 when we had snow up to the eaves. We were able to tap the trees that year but almost needed a ladder to remove the spiles after the snow melted.

The next full moon is March 18 and this will be the “sugar” moon. Over the years we have noticed that sap flow does seem to some degree to follow the moon cycles. The Farmer’s Almanac forecasts fair weather and moderating temperatures the first week of March. So we expect to be making syrup by the first or second week of March.

Over the years we have found it’s best to be ready to start by the first of March. These traditional forecasting methods are right about 50% of the time. They have to be right, sometimes, to keep the folklore alive.

With the easing of Covid restrictions in Ontario our camp and trails will be open to the public. Capacity restrictions will apply indoors and social distancing outdoors. We are looking forward to once again welcoming visitors.

Joel Fortune and dog Maple out helping to tap maple trees at Fortune Farms sugarbush
Joel Fortune and Maple helping tap the trees

Full Tanks of Sap Mean a Late Night at the Camp

It’s remarkable what a bit of frost will do. Last night the temperature dipped to minus 2 and reset the trees. Today the sap gushed and our tanks are full and we will be boiling late into the night.

Earlier this week in the warm weather, with no frost, the sap flow decreased to half or less than the normal amount. The fact that the sap ran was in part due to the vacuum system on the pipe lines. Bucket systems did not do so well.

Tomorrow may bring some showers and mild weather. We will be working hard to catch up to today’s large run of sap, plus the sap that comes tonight and tomorrow.

Next week looks promising, with frost some nights and warm days. It is shaping up to be a good year for syrup production, but we can’t be sure until it’s over.

Our camp will be open tomorrow, Sunday, March 28th, from 9am to 4 pm for syrup pickup. The trails are clear of snow and good for walking. Dogs are welcome on a leash.

A male robin and a male bluebird arrived this week to claim their territory and the red shouldered hawks are around but hard to spot. Social distancing and masks are mandatory when walking around the property. We look forward to seeing you.

A Full Tank of Sap
A full tank of sap