While the long-term impacts are uncertain, over the past few years, warming has led to a longer growing season for sugar maples. Whether that benefit will be cancelled out by drought, or other possible costs associated with climate change is uncertain. Changes in seasons have had a subtler impact on their physiology, however, that we have been able to track through the maple sugar industry.
The seasonal conditions of a below-freezing night and an above-freezing day that produce the reliable sap flow we get our maple syrup and sugar from have been increasingly unreliable. As a consequence of this, sugar makers throughout New England can no longer rely on traditional markers for when to start tapping their sugarbush, and must instead be on the alert for the conditions whenever they arise. Looking into the future, some predict that the viability of the maple sugar industry is moving north with the conditions, and before long, Quebec will have the seasons that made New England a center for syrup production.