It could be bad news for brunch fans.
The thought of naked pancakes may sound like a nightmare, but going syrup-less could soon be a reality for many Americans. That's right: Warmer-than-usual weather may cause a serious maple syrup shortage this year, forcing many to forgo their favorite topping.
Farmers estimate that production of maple syrup has dipped by as much as 75 percent, thanks to unseasonably warm temperatures in the nation's northeast, where much of the country's maple syrup is produced. In maple syrup-producing Montpelier, Vermont, for example, temperatures crept to 61 degrees on March 1. In Somerset, Pennsylvania it was 57 degrees that same day, weather reports show.
There, in Pennsylvania, farmers say sap flowed a month early. As Grubstreet points out, that's not always a bad thing. In fact, a mix of warmer and cooler temperatures can spike production, as it did last year. But when warmer weather hits for extended periods of time and stays that way, production problems can arise. This year, warmer temperatures could force maple-sap collection to end early—earlier than it ever has before, the president of the Pennsylvania Maple Syrup Producers Council, Gary Bilek, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Another farmer explained the problem to the newspaper this way: "For the sap to keep running, we need warm days followed by cold nights, below freezing, to drive the sap down and keep the trees from budding," Duck's Maple Farm owner Don Hess said. "If it doesn't get cold again, I'm done."
But a maple syrup shortage isn't just bad news for farmers: It could hit consumers hard, too. Grubstreet reports that demand for maple syrup has grown in recent years, with imports from Canada doubling in the last decade alone. So, if the U.S. production falls short this year, maple syrup prices will almost surely increase. And that's bad news for brunch fans everywhere.