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2012 Maple Syrup Forecast

February 1, 2012
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Maple Sugar Bucket

For a long time, botanists have known that freeze-thaw cycles in spring determine sap flow in maple trees. Sugar content in the sap also varies from year to year, but less is known about why. One possibility is that plants only have so much sugar to go around, so years when trees make lots of seeds are followed by years with less sugar in the sap. If this hypothesis is true, a strong increase in sugar maple seeds in the Fall of 2011 means 2012 could be the lowest syrup harvest this century (see figure by HF post-doctoral fellow Josh Rapp and HF senior ecologist Elizabeth Crone). 

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