The president of the St Pierre Museum says, the warm weather that has blanketed southern Manitoba this past week could mean an early start to the maple syrup harvest season.

Rolly Gagné says if temperatures stay above zero degrees, the trees may start producing early. 

“It takes a good five to ten days of close to freezing temperatures to get the trees stimulated to start the harvest. So, we've still got a few days before it could be, you know, there's something could be triggered.” 

Since it’s only the beginning of February and the maple harvest only happens in March, Gagné shares his concerns.  

"The problem is not with the harvest itself, but it could be a problem in regards for bud developments or anything like that, because tricking the trees to start developing buds, then the buds freezing, which would mean no leaves, that's a really negative situation because it can hurt the trees.” 

In regard to the harvest, he says,

"We've seen it before stating that, you know, we're harvesting the water (maple sap) is flowing quite a bit, and then it gets too hot, it stops, we wait another 3-4 days and bang, it starts over again. So, I think harvest wise, if you take a look at what happens in Quebec, where they have more like a 60 to 90 day harvest versus over here, where we've got a, you know, like a 5 to 10 or 14 day harvest. Thing is we could extend the harvest if we get ourselves ready for that, but we're not planning to do any, you know of the harvesting right away.”

Once again, the world-famous St Pierre Sugar Shack maple syrup will be served up at Festival du Voyageur, as it has over the past years. Gagné says they are ready to welcome visitors to their tent.  

“Well for us, because we're in charge of the Sugar Shack over there, and you know how we love to serve taffy on the snow. Lucky enough that we harvested our snow about, maybe 3 weeks ago. The last few storms that we had because we usually harvest (snow) during storms. So, we've got our snow stored away in a cool compartment, so we should be good. So, we're definitely going to be serving taffy on the snow. But for the festival organizers, in regard to the beautiful snow sculptures, it's going to be difficult if it doesn't cool down.”

Festival du Voyageur takes place from Feb 16 – 25 at Fort Gibraltar, Winnipeg