Monday, December 28, 2009

Maryland's Maple Syrup Industry

Did you know that Maryland has a maple syrup industry? When I was a kid, we would see demonstrations in the Catoctin mountains at Cunningham Falls State Park, and they are still doing them every year. Western Maryland still has some commercial maple syrup industries, and I discovered that you can buy the syrup up at Catoctin Mountain Orchard's farm stand on 15. I was excited, because I will add it to the gift box that my mom is making for our soon-to-be in-laws in Bogota, Colombia. Maple syrup is only produced in the Northeast US and Southeast Canada. Cool, huh?

The maple syrup industry in Maryland is threatened by climate change. According to the Maryland Climate Action Plan, prepared by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change that was appointed by the Governor, The maple-beech-birch forest of Western Maryland is likely to fade away, and pine trees will become more dominant in Maryland’s forests:
As the changing climate after the last Ice Age resulted in the northward shift in the distribution of tree species in eastern North America, 21st century warming will very likely result in the northward sift in the range of trees and forest types currently that exists in Maryland. Trees that need cold winter conditions (for example, sugar maples) or are susceptible to diseases or pests under warmer conditions will retreat northward, possibly replaced by species currently found south of Maryland. Plant hardiness zones for horticultural plants have recently been revised to take account of the changes in the potential ranges of garden plants that have already taken place...
Under a doubling of CO2 concentrations—likely to be experienced in the latter half of the century under the low-emissions scenario—the maple-beech-birch forests of Allegany and Garrett counties are likely to disappear, replaced by oak-hickory forests. The oak-hickory forest type that presently characterizes most of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain west of the Chesapeake is likely to transition to an oak-pine forest.
I was quoted in the Frederick News-Post about the changes in hardiness zones a few weeks ago because I also write a blog about global warming and Maryland called "local warming", and one of the commenters called me an idiot:
Shannon Moore said "Climate change is already being felt. "Our climate is warmer," she said. "Where we used to get snow, we get rain. We've changed our hardiness zones. That affects everything." I guess this idiot didn't hear the weather forecast for our area this weekend. I'm also guessing she wasn't present for the past couple winter storms we've already had this FALL. Maybe she didn't even see the latest on the scam produced by Al Gore about Global Warming... Maybe if she paid more attention in her science classes and not to her political party of choice she would have a better understanding of how the Earth and Weather goes through cycles. This is nature people. It happens.

Suffice to say, I have paid a lot of attention to my science classes! I thought this was funny and didn't take it personally. But it does remind me that there are many people out there who do not believe that climate change is occuring, and this mindset does an extreme disservice to our ability to address it. The reality is that our climate is shifting, and that will affect the industries in our region that produce our food.



omars said...

Amusing-but-sad when the quoted person says "pay more attention to science" while also saying "wow, this anecdotal incident last weekend means everything"...doesn't get that a local anecdote has zilch to do with global trends or even regional patterns.

Sadly, we in the US are now reaping the rewards of years of purposeful science-illiteracy brought about by reasoning-averse morons. I speak harshly, but reeally, think back to primary school and how smart/sciency people were consistently ostracized (effectively "being smart or getting things is bad") while the purposefully ignorant were viewed as heroes of some bizarre sort.

Now, we reap the results of that, in small ways (the US has the highest proportion of people who believe in creation mythology in the first world), and in big ways as the US continues to hold back the world in dealing with the climate issue.

Ironic that the dumb jocks of primary-school days may be able to destroy civilization now, even if only accidentally.

omars said...

and, maple syrup is awesome. Didn't realize it was solely a N.American thing.

Chelsea said...

I've been buying Maryland maple syrup for a while now from the Common Market (I think the syrup comes from Corriganville) - it's amazing!

I was also informed a while ago that grade B syrup is better for things like pancakes and waffles because it's a little less refined, so to speak, than the grade A and therefore has a bit more of that maple-y flavor...

Tim said...

Pennsylvania, our nearby neighbor to the north, has a nice maple industry which is celebrated with a spring festival.