CORNWALL, Ontario - Another harbinger of spring, the annual maple syrup season, is weeks behind schedule and it will take a concerted effort on behalf of Mother Nature to get things kick started.
Maple syrup producers are facing plenty of headaches as typically by this time of year trees are being tapped in preparation for sap collection.
But not this year.
"We haven't tapped trees yet - the (taps) won't even stay in the trees, it's so cold," said Linda Carruthers of Sand Road Maple Sugar Camp north of Cornwall. "They'll just crack."
It's not only bad news for locals who love the sweet taste of maple syrup, but it spells trouble for international connoisseurs too.
Canada produces about 85 per cent of the world’s maple syrup in a season that typically only lasts a couple of months at most.
The season requires daytime temperature of at least 5C and overnight of minus 5C to get the sap flowing. Any changes will affect sap production, and likewise the quantity and quality of this year's yield.
Some producers in northeast United States are already talking about a sap shortage this year.
Carruthers said tappers at Sand Road are hoping to get out this weekend, when temperatures rise slightly, to get to work.
"But they have to go out with snowshoes," she said, referring to the mountains of snow in the bush. "No one can really start. It's the same all over."
This time last year that was not the case, as syrup producers were well into preparing trees for sap production.