In the next one hundred years New England’s cooler regions may no longer promote the growth of sugar maples, which are well adapted to the region’s current climate. The change in climate will support species that now grow to the south of New England and in lower elevations, especially oaks and southern pines. Additionally, there will be the threat of non-native species, both insect pests and invasive plant species which may take over the forests.
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While there are both good and bad impacts on maple syrup producers due to climate change, overall, the effects will be negative. On the plus side, longer summers mean longer growing seasons for maple trees. However, regionally this longer growing season will increasingly be accompanied by periods of extended drought – particularly in more southern latitudes. This in turn may hinder root growth and performance. As maple syrup producers we are aware that anything which negatively effects maple tree roots is a concern because the roots are the origin for sap movement in the spring.
The Acer Climate and Socio-Ecological Research Network (ACERnet) formed recently to study climate impacts on sugar maple and maple syrup production. With funding from the Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center, we are focusing our research on the relationship between sap quality and climate, and how producers can and are adapting to climate variability and change.
This report summarizes the results from a survey to document respondent’s experience of changes within maple syrup operations and sugar maple (acer saccharum) ecosystems, including potential changes to regulations, technologies and climate.
Maple Watch is studying sap to investigate environmental impacts of climate change on sugar maples.