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March 19, 2012

Maple Sugar 2012
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:18 PM * 47 comments

The temperature here is in the mid-seventies today.

Normally, this would be the first week of maple-sugaring in the North Country. Instead, the sugaring is all done. It’s been a light year, too. Smaller harvest than usual.

Comments on Maple Sugar 2012:
#1 ::: John Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 03:39 PM:

Ouch. We drove through the North Country yesterday and while we were loving the warm weather, we did wonder how the sugaring season would be affected. I guess that's our answer. I'll have to buy early this year...

#2 ::: curiositykt ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 04:21 PM:

I am finding it really hard to believe that I shouldn't be planting my garden outside for another 6-8 weeks.. It's going to be 85 on Thursday here in MA.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 04:46 PM:

And we had a hail storm yesterday where the hail didn't melt until well into the following day. Different parts of the country are being different.

Does this mean maple syrup's going up in price again?

#4 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 04:57 PM:

Damn that Obama! /snark

My WTF lobe has worn out . . . my morning dog walk took place during a light shower of fat, fluffy snow flakes. (Portland suburbs.)

#5 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 05:45 PM:

The peach and apricot growers down here are in a panic over the possibility of frost. The cherry trees in DC are in full bloom; festival goers are going to have to settle for Kwanzans. I'm getting ready to set my cole crops out.

#6 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 05:57 PM:

Meanwhile, after two lovely weeks of circum-80s weather here in Oklahoma, it's been pouring all day and will do so most of the week. I'm glad I resisted the temptation to put out the houseplants, because it's going back down into the 40s. I got my peas, spinach, and lettuce planted and planned to do the onions this week. I just wish I'd bought some rain barrels before this.

It's that time of year where I wake up in the middle of the night and wish I'd switched to the summer jammies and comforter. To be balanced by the opposite sometime in October.

#7 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 06:12 PM:

I just hope this early warm weather doesn't do in the apple crop like it did a couple of years ago - there was a frost in early May, not late by usual standards, but it had been full on spring for a month and a half, and most of the apple blossoms went.

#8 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 06:28 PM:

Temps in the 80s all last week and this week in Northeast Georgia. Today's pollen count was 8,164; the all-time record (up till now) was in the 6,000s.

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 06:43 PM:

Yeah, despite this morning's snow, the cherry blossoms around my office have started coming out. They already look bedraggled:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan_e_jones/6998156495/in/photostream/

#10 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 06:53 PM:

And meanwhile, temperatures in the metropolitan Portland (Oregon) area dipped below freezing over night, with snow showers mid-morning (it didn't stick). In the short term, we're expecting heavy rain showers over the next few days, with between 2 and 5 inches between today and Wednesday. We expect the cold and rain to continue indefinitely.

This spring is colder and wetter than normal.

#11 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 07:39 PM:

Maple sugaring started at the beginning of February here in Ohio. Also a light season. I haven't heard any stats yet, but last year we were running at about 125% of sap normally used to make a gallon of syrup. My guess is that this year will be just as bad. People still have their buckets up. I keep wondering just what they're getting out of the trees now.

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 08:19 PM:

Low 80s today, supposed to cool off a bit for the next day or two and then warm up again. But this isn't too unusual for Houston, where it's always high summer by my birthday in early May. What is unusual is that we had very little actual cold weather this past winter -- temps ran more in the 50s than the 40s, and there were only a couple of nights of hard frost.

#13 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 08:41 PM:

This winter in Houston was like what I imagined all winters in Houston ought to be like, during my first summer here! The actual winters of '09-'10 and '10-'11 were greatly disappointing to me.

#14 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 09:19 PM:

More spring signs down here: Violets (among many other flowers) have been running riot for a few days now, and today I saw a ladybug.

Meanwhile, the heat is getting to the point where my dog is coming home without complaint after a mere 20-minute walk, and then heading for the water bowl before I can even remove her harness. (Time to start carrying water....) I'm definitely getting the sense that despite her short (and soft) fur, Gracie much prefers cold weather to hot.

#15 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 10:14 PM:

My report's similar to Lee's; the weather's been see-sawing here in Austin for the past several weeks: two-three days up into the 80s, then a storm will come through and drop some rain, and the temperatures will go back down. I'm not sorry about the rain, it's easing the drought.

But I'm worried. I looked at the historical data, and this year's temperatures are running consistently higher than average. We had a 90 degree day in February, and... well, anecdote doesn't equal data, but my impression is that this spring's weather has been more volatile than usual.

#16 ::: wrw ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 10:31 PM:

Here in Madison we're flirting with record highs all this week according to the forecast--near 80F. Great for biking to work and getting woodworking done. Less great for working on the 7th floor of the CS building, where the A/C system will not be spooled up for a few weeks and the windows don't open.

This past weekend was the state HS boys' basketball tournament, which is traditionally our last weekend of snow for the winter. That did not happen, but as volatile as February and March have been, I would not be shocked by a final late snowstorm sometime in April...

#17 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 10:33 PM:

Up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, it looks like we're headed for another drought year. About half the rainfall we need. That's after one good year following three lean with water restrictions.

Climate instability, anyone?

#18 ::: Keith Edwards ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2012, 10:50 PM:

Stefan Jones@9:

Yep, the cherry blossoms in our backyard are blooming. I looked out the other day when it was sunny and thought, "wow, it looks almost warm out!" Almost. Supposedly it broke 40 degrees here in Hillsboro but I doubt it.

Meanwhile, in MN it's 80 degrees. But Anthropogenic Climate Change is just a Commie lie!

#19 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 01:04 AM:

A picture from Down Under. It's March in Western Australia, which means it's supposed to be coming into autumn. Temperatures are supposed to be winding down from the summer high thirties into about the low thirties, high twenties, maybe mid twenties some days. It's supposed to be getting cloudier, and there should be the occasional rainy day on the horizon, maybe a shower or two.

So far this month, we've had at least one day over 40C in my area, and while it's now starting to get down into the low thirties and high twenties, the sky is still clear, blue, and cloud free. A couple of days ago, a category 4 cyclone crossed the North-west coast, and dropped a lot of water over the inland areas of WA - the tail end of it is now crossing the southern coast down around Esperance. Perth didn't get a drop.

But then, we've been undergoing a climate change here since around the late 1970s. These days, I tend to count the change of the seasons occurring with the astronomical markers - autumn isn't due to start for another day or two by those (after the equinox). The rains which used to start around the end of March and the beginning of April now tend to start around the end of May and the beginning of June, if we're lucky.

#20 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 01:57 AM:

And a bit further east in the Antipodes, it's wet. Northland (the pointy bit at the top left of New Zealand) got its average March rainfall yesterday.

Not March 1 through yesterday. Yesterday.

This sort of thing does happen here thanks to the Southern Oscillation, but it's happening a lot now.

#21 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:03 AM:

Here in central Scoland the grass outside my flat never stopped growing all winter.
In one sense it was a bit of a relief that this winter was more normal (ie hardly any snow, a couple of weeks of frosty mornings) compared to the last two, which had feet of snow and temps as low as -14, but since we all know what sort of trend this is, it doesn't really make me any happier.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:11 AM:

We had ice thick enough for skating on here in NL, the third time in the four winters I've spent here. Before then, there was a 15-year hiatius. Before 2007, most Dutch kids had never skated on natural ice.

But that ice (and a little accompanying snow) came after such a thaw that the daffodils had sprouted. They froze, of course, and died. So the parks and fields are less yellow than they should be about now. I don't know whether the bulbs will survive. I'm not an expert on such things.

#23 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:23 AM:

abi @ 22... We had ice thick enough for skating

"Where *did* I put those silver skates?"

#24 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:50 AM:

The winter-blooming apricot (Prunus mume) has finished blooming -- four solid weeks of blossoms. The bees loved it. This is the first time it's bloomed in February, and it started budding out at the beginning of January.

The brunnera and scylla are blooming (lovely sky blue flowers). The angelica are up and almost a foot tall. Forsythia is is bloom here, and the flowering quince is budding out, which means I need to find the hummingbird feeders soon.

Weirdest of all -- we have a rosemary planted in the backyard that survived the winter (not that we ever got true winter conditions here). It used to be considered a tender perennial in Central Ohio.

#25 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 10:58 AM:

Serge Broom @23: you might be one of those people on the brink of punning with that comment.

#26 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:30 AM:

@25 ...but we'll let it slide.

#27 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 11:42 AM:

Dammed if I do, dammed if I don't.

#28 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 12:12 PM:

It's been full-on spring for at least a month here -- I estimate that's the time since it last got anywhere near freezing at night.

My hyacinths were the first bulbs to bloom. Then the crocuses. I think the daffodils will be next.

We've had the typical temperature oscillations of a North Carolina spring, but much more warm than cold this time. The temperature commonly varies by 40 or more degrees over a period of a few days to a week in spring and fall here. It has happened that I've had to run the heat and the air conditioning in the same week, though not usually in the same day. But this year, it was mostly warm with just a few dips into chilly.

I hear this is a La Niña year. I'm not sure what that means for summer. Last summer was brutal -- it was so hot and humid that I could hardly go outside at all. I actually found myself having SAD-like symptoms because I was spending all my time indoors in the air conditioning and not getting any sunlight. I really hope this summer is more moderate.

#29 ::: Jason Aronowitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 02:12 PM:

It's 75 degrees in Montpelier, Vermont. The Governor just tapped a sugar maple on the State House lawn, TV cameras rolling.

#30 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Second record high day in a row in Albany, NY. (77)

#31 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Serge, keep your hans where we can see them.

#32 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 07:05 PM:

Dave Trowbridge@17, Steinbeck referred to areas a bit south of you getting wet years and dry years, not only during his own time but during the 1800s, so you've always had some climate instability. Wikipedia says El Niño events have been occurring every 2-7 years for at least 300 years, though most have been weak. We've had more of them than usual in the last couple of decades, and more strong ones than usual (but weather recordkeeping has also gotten better in the last century or so.) Is it because of global warming, or is it just the usual random noise?

I'm not saying that to deny global warming - that's really a separate set of trends, and the only people who seriously deny it are the big energy-related industries that don't want Congress making laws interfering with them and the politicians who want those companies to support their party. Increased temperatures may be increasing instability, and so are things like diverting water for agriculture, burning forests, etc., but it's always been unstable out here. And while Steinbeck was talking 60 years ago about how during the wet years people forget the dry years, and how it's always been that way, we haven't gotten better at that since then, and when the economy does the same kinds of things, we're not good at remembering that either.

Here in Silicon Valley, it's been fairly normal stormy spring weather the last week or so, but before that the winter was mostly cold and dry, instead of being the rainy season we're supposed to get. I doubt we'll come close to catching up, but we can at least hope that we get some more rain this spring. Tulips are coming out, daffodils came and went, something ate the amaryllises so they didn't get to blooming, and there was some kind of annoying pollen out until the rain hit.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 08:28 PM:

Lila #8: The number of allergy sufferers around me has hit an all-time high too (not surprisingly.

I remember the previous all-time pollen high (it was my first spring in Atlanta, and the pollen fall looked like yellow snow). This also looks like a light dusting of yellow snow and makes me feel sorry for people who just washed their cars.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 08:59 PM:

17
It rained most of last Friday night and Saturday morning. It was the first really good rain in weeks, in my area of L.A. I'd almost forgotten what rain is like. I don't know how much we actually got though.
And it's looking a bit dry in west Texas again this year: they still haven't cleared two inches for the season.

#35 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2012, 09:05 PM:

One of the local sugar bushes, the fellow who owns it has 150 trees tapped. Normal years, he'd get 25 gallons of syrup. This year he only got five.

Maple syrup will be expensive this year.

(We'll be getting our syrup for Viable Paradise this week.)

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 08:19 AM:

Serge #27: When it comes to the Dutch Boy, you've painted yourself into a corner.

#37 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:34 AM:

And now that we're past the equinox, and it's officially Spring here in Portland, OR, once again I woke up this morning to find it was snowing. It's stopped now, but it left a light dusting on the trees and houses. Global Climate Weirding indeed.

#38 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 11:41 AM:

Fragano #33:

It's definitely pollen season here in Austin; although we got three inches of rain early yesterday morning, the glass patio table is now dusty-looking again. I've had some kind of allergy thing going for about three weeks now that's produced an amazing bronchitis, even for me. What makes it all even worse is that I escaped cedar fever this year for the first time in what seems like decades.

On the other hand, we have flowering vines, our tomatoes are already setting, all the trees are green including the normally late-going crape myrtles, and we're in the middle of a truly amazing antique rose production. Jury's still out on whether we want to plant morning glories and purple hyacinth bean vines this year, but I bet if we did they'd go great guns.

The other weird thing is that the arugula went aggressively to seed over the winter, and half our back garden lawn is now a fragrant salad crop.

#39 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 04:24 PM:

It's only been 15 degrees Celsius the last two days, but before that, Winnipeg spent several days in the low 20s (70+ faranheit). Two weeks ago, we still had decent snow cover and days below freezing, though barely; the river ice skating trail was closed March 9th. That snow vanished completely in a week, and a week and a half after the river trail closed, the ice had broken (At least on the Assiniboine. I haven't looked at the Red, which is bigger). It had been open in patches and visibly dangerous for days before that.

At least this year we aren't starting with saturated ground and large winter precipitation, launching into major floods. But that's because we barely had a winter worthy of the name. Yes, we had a few days of -30, but a few, and almost as few at -20. There also wasn't a month without a few days of above freezing.

Good for taking the baby out and about, though the wind has been something else. But even as I enjoy it, my "we broke the planet" keeps pinging.

#40 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 04:28 PM:

In Corvallis (80 miles south of Portland) it's slushing, and has been since very early this morning. By that I mean the stuff falling out of the sky, without let-up since I've been awake today, is definitely slush.

#41 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 21, 2012, 04:57 PM:

Yes. It's true. The Pacific Northwest has been holding back the rest of the country's Winter.

One billion dollars into the WA and OR treasuries, or we let it loose and ruin that picnic you had planned for the weekend.

#42 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 01:15 AM:

Aaaaaand it's still snowing in Portland. For the first few hours the snow was melting as fast as it fell, but now the temperature has fallen and the snow is sticking, even to the road outside, usually the last part of the landscape to cool down. So now, America, you know where your snow is.

#43 ::: Camilla ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2012, 10:11 PM:

My first of year butterfly, a mourning cloak, flew briskly towards me on Sunday afternoon, in Medford MA. I held out a finger, and he/she fluttered at it, then crashed into my hair.

The superstition in the Moomintroll books about the color of the first butterfly of the year, always made me wonder as a kid - mourning cloaks are dark brown, and because they overwinter as adults, they're almost inevitably the first out (and they have a wide circumpolar range). Did she borrow a real (and dark) superstition, or are Moomins expected not to wake up from hibernation until there's a profusion of butterflies?

#44 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 09:20 AM:

Camilla #43: Not sure, but here, the first of the proper season have been cabbage butterflies and some sort that looks like a yellow version of the (white) cabbage. There were a couple of even earlier outliers (including a monarch!) but those were early enough to look distinctly out of place.

#45 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2012, 09:40 AM:

Our first butterflies were cabbage whites, too.

Katana, the Japanese Chin, delights in chasing them. (Any butterfly really.) He's the first dog I've had that paid any attention to them.

Oh, and it's been so warm that we have our first toads courting in the lily pond. I'll have to check my gardening journal to see when they arrived last year.

#46 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2012, 12:44 PM:

To contrast the amount of snow on the ground:

The cover photo for this book was taken on 10Apr11.

Here's another graveyard photo, not far away, taken on 24Mar12.

Note the utter lack of snow.

#47 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2012, 03:31 PM:

Maple syrup poured on spam, I've done.But maple frosted marijuana brownies?

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