“Huge Financial Loss”: Nova Scotia Maple Syrup Producer Loses Half His Harvest Due to Storm Fiona

Maple trees on a Nova Scotia farm took nearly a century to grow, but were decimated in just hours during post-tropical storm Fiona. The farm owner says the devastating loss hasn’t even been felt yet.

Jason Haverkort, owner of Haveracre Maple Farm in Antigonish, says his farm will need decades to regrow after Storm Fiona tore through the area two weeks ago, knocking down trees.

Haverkort estimates that about 6,000 of his maples have been killed, half of his tapping area.

“It’s going to be a huge financial loss… I’ll never see that again in my lifetime,” he said.

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Maple trees can only be tapped if they are mature, and the process can take decades.

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“It will take fifty years for the trees to grow back. I will never see exploited areas again.

Haverkort said the loss is unlikely to be fully absorbed until next spring when he expects a big sap rush and will only see a “trickle”.

He’s been in the business for 23 years — he started the business with his family where the maple trees grew naturally. He has been able to enlarge it since.

“With the new production methods, we have had very good harvests by producing excess quantities to be able to sell outside the province,” he said.

When news arrived that Hurricane Fiona was heading into Atlantic Canada before developing into a severe storm, Haverkort said there wasn’t much preparation.

“There’s nothing you can do, hope for the best,” he said.

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His farm has suffered damage from previous hurricanes and storms, but nothing like this.

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“These seemed to descend in a chain effect… The tops of the trees rest on the roots of those behind.”

Haverkort said staff had worked full days to clean up the mess, but it will be months before everything is fixed.

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The Nova Scotia Agriculture Association (NSAA) said Antigonish County was one of the hardest hit areas for farmers in the province, and some won’t even see a harvest this year.

“It will put some people out of business for sure,” said NSAA’s Alicia King.

“Some people will think it will be like the last straw, with all the cost of inputs that we’ve had even just in this season, before we even harvest some of these crops.”

The province said help is on the way and there will be cost-shared federal and provincial programs in place for insurance and income stability.

But even with government assistance, Haveracre Farm will need several decades to fully recover.

Farmer Haverkort hopes to see compensation for the trees he lost. “I don’t know what’s going on in the pipeline yet,” he said.

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“(It’s) a huge financial loss not just for a year but for the rest of my life.”

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