Vermont’s maple-syrup industry braces for climate change

Will warmer winters stop the flow of Vermont maple syrup? That’s the question of the day in the Green Mountain State, where folks worry that climate change will make the $200 million industry — which provides 32 percent of U.S. syrup output — dry up. “I’ve always been, ‘Oh, global warming, I don’t know about that,'” said syrup-maker Doug Rose. “But now I do think we need to start thinking about it, because … we’re seeing production go down, we really are.” Some tree-tappers report that the season now starts in January instead of March, and a recent study by the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center (sweet!) showed that the month-long season has shrunk by about three days over the last 40 years. And since the best syrup comes from warm days followed by below-freezing nights, temperatures play a key role. A hit to the tradition would hurt not only pocketbooks, but pride. “It’s like a religion, maple syrup,” said one worried observer. “It’s the heart and soul of Vermont.”