Six to eight weeks before mature maple trees bud in the spring, maple syrup producers collect sap and then boil it down to make syrup. The whole process relies on flowing sap, and that requires temperatures that swing from below freezing nights to above freezing days.

Maple sap being collected

Fadden’s Maple Sugarhouse in New Hampshire has been taking advantage of this natural process for more than 100 years.

But James Fadden says the climate conditions are changing. Warming trends and earlier spring temperatures mean the syrup season now begins earlier.

Fadden: “I have records of my grandfather and my great-grandfather’s operation back in the 1930s and ’40s, and it seemed as though they always started around the first or second week of March.”

Jim Fadden
James Fadden

Fadden’s season, however, is now starting at the end of February. He hopes his children and grandchildren will continue the family business on the land that’s been in his family for generations, but he’s not confident they’ll have that chance.

Fadden: “Well, the forecasts that I read about is that I’m going to have the climate of Virginia, right here in New Hampshire.”

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And that could eventually make it too warm to produce liquid gold in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photos: Collecting sap photo (copyright protected); James Fadden photo (source: Courtesy of James Fadden).

More Resources
Fadden’s General Store and Maple Sugarhouse
New Hampshire Maple Producers Association
FAQ on maple tree tapping and maple syrup production

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David Appell

A regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections since 2012, David Appell, Ph.D., is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon, specializing in the physical sciences, technology, and the environment. His...