Quebec is headed for a great maple growing season. Here and there, producers talk about records, including David Bolduc, in Chaudière-Appalaches.
“I just hit 9.54 pounds at notch. I even managed to beat my 2020 record! And it’s not over, it’s still flowing,” says this maple grower known for careful production management. He knows that such an act will earn him sarcastic comments. “A lot of people called me a liar in the years when I was 6 or 7 pounds at the wound, so I guess [ce que ça va être] at 9 or 10 pounds! In a sign that a large volume of syrup is due to be produced this year throughout Quebec, the eastern regions, which were still covered in snow, are also beginning to open the floodgates. Here is the fifth report of the season from the producers followed by The earth.
David Bolduc, Chaudiere-Appalaches
End of notch: February 19th
First evaporation: 23 of February
Performance as of April 21: 9.54 pounds at notch
Performance target: 7.5 pounds at notch
Number of notches: 3,225
“We have an extraordinary season: great flows, great yields and the syrup is very good. We are having a lot of fun in the cockpit, ”summarizes David Bolduc, who together with his partner Mado should approach the incredible 10-pound mark at the notch. “Today I fall in love with flavor defects. I will have at least nine pounds at the notch without any flavor defects and I hope to make another three-quarters or one pound of industrial syrup,” says the man who operates 3,225 notches in Saint-Jacques-de-Leeds. At the time of the interview, on April 21, he was beginning to aerate his maple sap to avoid, he hoped, the bud flavor. “I work my water with aeration columns. It can help, but I don’t rework the syrup, because when it’s re-boiled, it’s dangerous to mask the taste of the bud and then have it reappear. When you only work with the water, the flavor remains stable”, he assures. David Bolduc does not hesitate to produce industrial syrup. “Many people demonize bud syrup, but this syrup has a purpose. There is a market for that and it is paid for,” he says. The maple syrup producer will end his season when the syrup will be difficult to circulate in the press. His success can be explained by several factors, including the development of the Maple Grove, which wiped out 700 griffons when he took over from his father. “Some people still don’t believe it, but landscaping and notch removal make it possible to make even more syrup,” he argues.
Zoe Bisaillon, Monteregie
End of notch: February 16th
First evaporation: February 12
Performance target: 4.5 pounds at notch
End Yield: 4.76 pounds at the notch
Number of notches: 8,500
Sugar season is officially over for Zoé Bisaillon in Acton Vale. “We could have continued to make end-of-season syrup, but we had no more barrels left, we had spent quite a bit on our wood supply, and the maple sap was beginning to cloud. We leave that there,” explains the maple syrup producer. Especially since she still had a quantity of last year’s end-of-season syrup left that she and her husband use to make gin, candied onions, etc. She ends the sugar season with a smile, as she just matched her 2020 production record. The consistent quality of the syrup stands out this year. “We’ve had pretty much perfect syrup all season,” she says. New seasons begin for her, those of elaboration of the products of the maple and her vineyard. Zoé Bisaillon markets for the first time her maple wine aged for two years in Calvados barrels. “It’s made from 100% maple syrup. The Calvados barrels provide a flavor of apple and pear. It’s excellent,” she exhibits.
Sandra Gaudet, Temiscamingue
End of notch: March, 15th
First evaporation: March 21st
Performance as of April 21: 4 pounds at the notch
Performance target: 4 pounds at the notch
Number of notches: 600
“I was leaking a lot last night. We fill a 500 gallon tank. That’s quite a record for a casting! My father even called us to tell us: ”Come and boil over this; It’s full!” says the maple syrup producer from Témiscamingue, owner of Érablière Les Petits Sticky Fingers. The last few days have brought you generous volumes of water. “But during the day, it doesn’t flow much. Our maples seem to work at night,” he laughs. The season is productive.
Mrs. Gaudet says that she turns on the evaporator every other day. One big day of boiling even produced 110 liters of syrup. “We got close to our 4-pounder at the notch. I told to my groom : “We have to raise our goal to at least 5 pounds at the notch!” Especially since we have noticed sugar stones in recent days, even in the concentrate. The old folks said that means there’s still a month’s worth of sugar left. We’re not done! she enthusiastically shares. She rates the flavor of the syrup as refined and exceptional.
Bianka Page, Mauricie
End of notch: February 25
First evaporation: March 24th
Performance as of April 21: 3 pounds at the notch
Performance target: 4 pounds at the notch
Number of notches: 4,000
When The earth spoke to him on April 22, Bianka Pagé was returning from a gala where she was a finalist for the Mauricie agricultural company of the year award. The last few days have provided him with good volumes of maple sap, allowing him to catch up. “It will not be an exceptional season. We did not have very large flows and the water is not very sweet, around 1.5 degrees Brix. But it’s a relief to see that we won’t have a bad season either. We just got over 3 pounds at the notch,” says the co-owner, with her spouse, of Érablière Pagé-Savard et Filles, in Saint-Alexis-des-Monts. There’s still snow on the ground, she says, and a very faint taste of sap reaches her nose. She produces a barrel about every two days and hopes the season will lengthen. However, she doesn’t think she can reach her 4-pound goal at the notch. “We expected something better, because we had improved our system of [cueillette d’eau] “, he admits.
Wesley Levasseur, Lower Saint Lawrence
End of notch: March 11th
First evaporation: March 21st
Performance as of April 21: 2.3 pounds at the notch
Performance target: 5 pounds at the notch
Number of notches: about 200,000
“It’s flowing enough today to produce 100 barrels. With the water that we have accumulated and the one that must flow tonight, tomorrow we should have between 150 and 160 barrels”, expresses with great satisfaction Wesley Levasseur, who operates 200,000 taps with his family in Saint-Athanase. The words were beginning to fail him under the weight of fatigue, he who has to stay awake to concentrate the sap of the maples that the trees give him during the night. Indeed, when his two tanks, which add up to 60,000 liters of concentrate at 16 degrees Brix, are full, he does not wait for the next day and immediately starts a second concentration at 30 degrees Brix, which he stores in other tanks to release the first. His team arrives at 7 am to operate the evaporator. “It’s our routine,” he explains. His record last year of 170 barrels of syrup in one day could be broken, he anticipated seeing the volume of water coming in at the time of the interview on April 21. The weather forecast brings you a lot of hope. “I would be very surprised if we didn’t make 5 pounds at notch. I trust that we will have a good season”, says the man who surpassed the plateau of 1,000 barrels of syrup produced. “The flavor of the syrup is very good. We are at our best right now,” rejoices Mr. Levasseur, who produces around 80 barrels a day on average these days.