How Could Climate Change Affect New Hampshire's Maple Syrup Industry?

Mar 7, 2016

  Environmental advocates say they hope to raise awareness about climate change by highlighting its projected effects on New Hampshire's maple syrup industry. 

The Climate Impacts on Maple Syrup Breakfast takes place Wednesday morning at Keene State College.

Among those scheduled to speak is Steven Roberge, a forester with UNH Cooperative Extension. He says climate change appears to be affecting the weather cycle of above-freezing daytime temperatures and below-freezing nighttime conditions that help sap flow in maple trees.

"If it gets too warm, too fast and that warm snap in the spring stays for a long time, it's sustained, the wood fibers that are allowing the sap to flow out of the tree get plugged up with bacteria that grow in the warm conditions," Roberge says. "These warm periods really shorten the season."

Roberge says the industry has been adapting by using vacuuming systems to better extract sap from trees, but for small syrup operations such systems can be costly.

Maple producers say the industry employs about 1,000 people in New Hampshire and accounts for more than $150 million in economic activity each year.