Don’t look now, but maple season is coming to Maine. In the late winter and early spring, our state’s maple producers tap their trees, collect sap and boil it all down, making not only maple syrup but also sugar, fudge and other products.

Maple syrup isn’t just a sweet treat (and, boy, is it yummy). Maple syrup production is also one of Maine’s most important industries, contributing to the economy in a wide range of ways. Our state makes more than 570,000 gallons of maple syrup annually during a normal season, generating over $55 million for the Maine economy and supporting hundreds of good-paying jobs. In fact, Maine is the third-largest maple syrup producer in the United States (behind Vermont and New York), with production increasing by 31% from 2021 to 2022.

However, Maine industries like ours cannot rest on our laurels. The sectors of the economy that are particularly vulnerable to climate change need to remain on high alert, knowing that “normal seasons” are no longer par for the course. Last year, the state’s maple syrup production hit its lowest point in a decade, with Maine producing under 500,000 gallons — a 25% drop — for the first time since 2012.

Why the decrease? A wildly unpredictable environment. At the start of the season, maple trees were too cold for sap to run freely. And, by the end of the season, the weather had warmed too quickly and dramatically, reducing flow at the worst possible time. In other words, the sap ran early, fast and not enough.

While this year is looking more “normal,” we must remain vigilant. At the moment, the only constant with the climate is change, so maple syrup producers can no longer expect the best possible conditions. It is important to anticipate change and continue to innovate, finding new ways to make the production of maple syrup efficient and effective over time. Climate change makes innovation all the more important, as our industry experiments with new approaches to tapping trees, collecting sap and boiling it down.

On the bright side, Mainers are innovators at heart. Our industry, like so many others, has been through a whole lot over the years. And we just keep going. Maple syrup is big business in Maine because we keep rising to the challenge of making it, even in adverse conditions. For instance, even last year, maple syrup producers in southern Maine performed very strongly. While northern producers fared poorly due to bad weather, our state still exhibited resilience as a whole.


And that sort of resilience, combined with innovation, will be a recipe for success — not just maple cookies and pancake dressing. Expecting the unexpected, it is important to recognize that in-season fluctuations are more likely than ever before. So-called “micro seasons” are here to stay, with a single week often feeling like winter and spring in a matter of days. The new status quo may be the shorter season, with less gradual changes in temperature.

In any case, Mainers can remain confident in our resilience and innovation, especially within the small business community. The Maine Maple Producers Association represents more than 250 of the 450 producers licensed to sell maple products in Maine, and most of our members are small businesses. They are not large corporations; these are artisan producers that focus on high quality and top-tier customer service.

And small businesses know how to persevere in all sorts of environments. The COVID-19 pandemic proved it too. We just keep going.

Remember that the next time you drizzle your waffle with maple syrup — it is not just a Maine product, be sure it’s Maine pure. Maple syrup is Maine in every sense of the word. Enjoy responsibly!

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