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Maple Leader Lost in Ohio

These are the words of Les Ober in memory of Karl Evans

 

It was a little over 5 weeks ago that I traveled to PA on a bright sunshiny day to help with the Lake Erie Maple Expo.  I remember thinking that we had finally rounded to the corner and a new normal lay ahead.  A month later Ohio successfully pulled off The Ohio Maple Days on an early December cloudy and rainy day.  Little did any of us realize this was a premonition of what was to come.

The following Wednesday we heard the news that the Ohio Maple Community had lost one of its own. The news left all of us speechless, asking why?  Karl Evans, current President of the Ohio Maple Producers Association, passed away on December 15, 2021.  Karl was only 51 years old leaving behind his wife Amber and two beautiful and amazing daughters Abigail and Anna.

I have known Karl for most of the years that I have worked for OSU Extension, and he took over one of the most historic maple syrup operations in NE Ohio when I was just getting started.  The woods he owned was formerly owned by Francis Manes.  Francis was a prominent distributor for the Leader Evaporator Company in NE Ohio.  Karl fit right in, taking over the Leader dealership, and developing May Hill Maple Supply.  Working alongside him was his longtime friend and fellow maple producer Ray Gingerich.  He changed his home woods over to a vacuum tubing system and was soon working together with Ray installing tubing systems across NE Ohio and NW PA.

When the idea germinated to start the Lake Erie Maple Expo, Karl was one of the first to sign on and make it happen.  At the same time, Karl became interested in working with the Ohio Maple Producers Association.  After several years on the Board of Directors, he took over the position of Vice President working alongside President Dan Brown. When Dan retired as President, Karl was elected in his stead. Karl was never one to seek out recognition.  He was rather shy and reserved, but over the 4 years I watched him gain confidence using his determination to build a stronger organization.  He represented Ohio as a Director for the North American Maple Syrup Council.  He also worked with Ohio State University lending support to develop the OSU Mansfield Maple Program.  His guidance and advice will be missed.

Evans is pictured here in his perfect maple tree orchard that he planted himself over the past 20 years at his farm in Orwell, Ohio.  Evans took great pride in this orchard saying he wanted to leave a legacy for his daughters.  Just like the straight rows of 300 maple trees, Karl will be remembered most for the straightforward and honest advice that he gave to his fellow sugar makers.

Ohio Maple Days – Spotted Lanternfly, Part II

Part I last week focused on the basics of spotted lanternfly.  What they look like, where they are, where they might be going, what to do if you see some, and more.  This week, I want to share a few initial findings (albeit preliminary results) of how spotted lanternfly impact maples.  A big thanks to Scott Weikert of Penn State Extension for relaying these great bits of information.

First let’s start with the good news.  One bright spot of optimism for most maple producers is that while monitoring efforts are seeing spotted lanternfly in the forest, the pest does not tend to have super high population densities there.  Rather, the heaviest infestations tend to be more on the edges.  That is perhaps reason to be encouraged for most maple producers, but certainly not all.  In my own mind, I would imagine a sugarbush surrounded by intact forest on all sides is at lower risk whereas a backyard sugarmaker tapping a few open-grown trees may face more of a threat.

Heavily infested silver maple trees are showing abnormal bud swelling during the fall and producing no seeds the following year.  It remains unknown what the implications are for sap quality, but anytime an insect pest interferes with a tree’s reproductive cycle there is cause for legitimate concern.

It is certainly worth noting that initial data suggest that spotted lanternfly favor silver maple more than red maple.  As sugar maple does not constitute much of the forest composition where spotted lanternfly infestations are heaviest in Pennsylvania, it would be conjecture to rank sugar maple’s preference to other maples just yet.  As the pest moves into more localities, more will be learned.

Finally, some researchers observed that feeding on red maples tends to be extremely intense and concentrated to just a few weeks in the fall.  While no actual mortality has been observed in maples at this time, discoloration of the xylem in branches is a suspected result of heavy feeding.  It is uncertain what that damage means for future sap flow, but it stands to reason that discolored wood may inhibit sap flow if the response is similar to when a tree compartmentalizes the wound of a taphole or other injury.

While this post leaves far more open gaps in our understanding of how spotted lanternflies may impact the maple resource in the future, it is a start.  As the pest continues to infest new locations and studies gather more data, we will be better equipped to anticipate and combat impacts from this novel forest pest.

For more information, see Part I from last week or check out Penn State’s resources for spotted lanternfly to learn more.

If you see spotted lanternfly or other invasive species, please report your findings!  That is the single best way to improve the efficiency of any efforts to fight back.  Click here for more information on reporting through the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN).

Ohio Maple Days – Spotted Lanternfly, Part I

Despite significant changes to the timing and schedule of Ohio Maple Days not to mention the ever-evolving challenges presented by COVID, we had a great turnout in Ashland back on December 11th.  A subset of maple producers, about 20 in number, also enjoyed an excellent syrup grading workshop on Friday night the 10th.

During the morning session, Amy Stone (an Extension educator from Lucas County) presented on spotted lanternfly and was kind enough to share her graphic-heavy slide deck with us.  You might consider this a Part I post and I’ll follow-up with a Part II next week.

This half is all about spotted lanternfly.  What do they look like, where did they come from, where are they now, where might they be going, why you should care about them, and most importantly – how to report spotted lanternfly if you do spot them.  Click here to access Amy’s whole slide deck from her presentation on 12/11/2021.

Spotted Lanternfly (Amy Stone) Slide Deck from Ohio Maple Days December 2021

An infestation of adult spotted lanternflies is pretty hard to miss or mistake for something else.

The adults are preceded by 4 instars of developing maturity.  Each stage has a diagnostic “look” and the season when they are active.  Familiarizing oneself with the life cycle and knowing how spotted lanternfly will manifest depending on the time of year is key for solid monitoring.

At first glance you may only notice the one egg mass but look up and you’ll see a second.  Egg masses immediately after a female lays is fairly easy to see, but with passing time, the shiny coat over the egg mass fades and the mass become far more cryptic and camouflaged.

Spotted lanternfly was first detected in Jefferson County, OH, but recently Cuyahoga County has been added to the list of known OH positives.

For a comprehensive dive into spotted lanternfly, dig through the slide deck.  It’s a great exploration of this novel invasive forest pest.

Part II next week will focus on some specific preliminary findings on how spotted lanternfly are believed to be impacting maples.  Because of where spotted lanternfly infestations are currently heaviest, most of the results are from Pennsylvania and most applicable to red and silver maples, but you’ll want to tune back in to hear what some researchers – including several from Penn State University – are starting to learn about the maple – spotted lanternfly interaction.

If you see spotted lanternfly or other invasive species, please report your findings!  That is the single best way to improve the efficiency of any efforts to fight back.  Click here for more information on reporting through the Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN).

2022 Maple Season Forecast from a Climate Expert

Please join us at 7:00 PM, Thursday January 13th to learn from OSU Extension’s Aaron Wilson about how weather, climate, and maples interrelate.  His talk has immediate implications for this current year’s sap run and a long ways into the future.  Those of you that have heard Aaron speak before know that it is a real treat to learn from his expertise.  Register here at the Woodland Stewards website.

Dr. Aaron Wilson is an Atmospheric Research Scientist with the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and Climate Specialist with a joint appointment in OSU Extension.  He will shed some light on how the coming maple season may turn out.  Dr. Wilson’s presentation will include the 2022 short-term forecast as well as how our changing climate may alter maple production in the future.  Future climate projections pose significant challenges to the future of maple production across southern maple producing zones.  Planning for the future and considering how best to meet those challenges is crucial for sustained maple production in the long-term.

Synopsis:  From increasing winter and spring temperatures to extreme weather events, climate change poses a risk to the maple syrup production community. These changes alter short-term conditions like quality and quantity of sap, while long-term changes in climate are having impacts on the health of trees, roots, and shifting areas where production is viable. Projections of future climate pose significant challenges to the future of maple production across southern zones. How might the community plan for and mitigate these impacts? Join us as we explore the influence of weather and climate change on the maple industry and discuss the implications for the future.

Register TODAY!

Maple Assistance Opportunity through EQIP

The Environmental Quality Incentive Program, EQIP for short, provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and woodland managers to combat environmental concerns and provide natural resources benefits.  Maple Producers should be excited to know that several maple practices are now eligible under EQIP.

How does EQIP work in the first place?

EQIP is a voluntary program, and contracts are available for a single year ranging up to a full decade.  The list of EQIP practices is long.  If you can imagine an environmental issue facing a farmer or woodland owner, you can safely bet there is an EQIP practice (or 3!) to meet that need.  Successful applicants to receive EQIP assistance paid at either a 75% or 90% rate to implement the recommended activity on their property.  Historically Underserved applicants, which includes Beginning Farmers, Limited Resource Farmers, Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, and Veteran Farmers, can tap into the higher 90% rate.

How does maple fit in to EQIP?

There is no set-aside pot of money allocated only for maple producers.  To improve your chances to get maple-related assistance, you should couple forestry- or wildlife-related practices.  Think tree or shrub plantings, managing grapevines or invasive species, or improving your woods through a Timber Stand Improvement (TSI) cut for just a few examples.  If you are a farmer, there are plenty of other practices to consider as well.  The more comprehensive and realistic your application to EQIP is, the better your odds of being a successful awardee.

So what are the maple-specific EQIP practices?  There are functionally 2 practices – reverse osmosis and sap preheaters that fall under Practice Code 374 – Energy Efficient Agricultural Operation.  Once you break up the size of sap preheaters into small/large and bracket RO units as small/medium/large capacity, the number of specific items actually grows to 5.  The 2 graphics below will explain more of the cost rate assistance details.

When/how do I apply?

The very first step is to determine if you are eligible to apply, and the initial process starts with establishing records with the Farm Service Agency.  Once eligibility is determined, you can proceed with your application.  All the applications are ranked against one another for funding priority.  In other words, EQIP ranks applications to ensure their dollars are going as far and as efficiently as they possibly can.

When to apply is just as important as How to apply.  The next batch of EQIP applications will be finalized and ranked on January 14th for the Fiscal Year 2022.  Though applications can be submitted year-round, any application received after mid-January will be considered in the 2023 batch of applications.

Who can help me apply?

You should contact your local NRCS service center and get in touch with the ODNR Service Forester covering your territory.

When will I find out if I got EQIP assistance?

It’s hard to know an exact date; however, once when successful applicants are notified, the final step is to sign contract documents once they are ready.

 

Don’t be discouraged if you miss the January 14th deadline, you can always be working on your application for the next Fiscal Cycle.  While there is no guarantee that maple producers will be so well-positioned to benefit from EQIP in coming years, EQIP is a wonderful program that can benefit your maple operation but in much broader ways as well.

Author: Gabe Karns
Special thanks to Gary Graham for forwarding information about the Practice Code 374 eligibility.

December Ohio Maple Days & Grading Workshop

Don’t forget to register for the Ohio Maple Days meeting scheduled for December 11 in Ashland.  We have a limited number of seats, so don’t delay too much in getting in those registrations.

We are also excited to host a syrup grading workshop on Friday, December 10th.  Please consider making a couple days of it to participate in both the workshop and the main event on Saturday.  Registration for the syrup grading workshop is on the Woodland Stewards website.

See you there!

New OSU Maple Syrup SHOP

We are excited to have a new maple shop up and running on the Woodland Stewards website.  The new shop gives us a few new features to track orders and supplies a bit better.  The 2021 syrup run is all bottled and waiting on your orders as the Holiday season approaches.  We have 1/2 pint glass bottles available in addition to pint, quart, half gallon, and gallon (gallons by request only) available in jugs.

I am happy to report that syrup sales placed 2 part-time students and a full-time recent graduate in the field throughout last winter’s sugaring season.  From both a production standpoint (how the maple syrup is produced and hands-on learning of that process) and research standpoint (how to ask good research questions and how to set up experiments to get answers), each student had an incredible enriching experience thanks to your support of the program.

NEW Fact Sheet – A Consumer’s Guide to Pure Maple Syrup

Our very own Les Ober recently published a new fact sheet entitled “A Consumer’s Guide to Pure Maple Syrup.”  This promises to be an excellent resource to share with buyer’s asking about the difference between Golden Delicate and Dark Robust syrup grades and so much more.

You can find it here!

Maple Certification Course Available

Registration is open for a Maple Certification course offered by Future Generations University, one of our principal collaborating institutions.  Designed for central Appalachian sugarmakers, the course is a combination of online trainings followed by mentored in-field experiences throughout the sugaring season.  Visit the link for more information and sign-up!  The first online class begins Monday, November 8th.

MapleMAPS

The University of Southern Maine’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) and the Atlantic Corporation recently released MapleMAPS, short for Maple Market Assessment and Planning System.  MapleMAPS provides access to over 20,000 survey responses from across the United States focused consumer preference data for maple syrup and other maple products.  According to the MapleMAPS website, MapleMAPS provides “tools that all maple syrup producers can easily use for business planning and forecasting based on specific market opportunities in their respective and neighboring states and regions, and will lead to benefits such as increased consumption of domestic maple syrup and increased sales and better profit margins for producers.”

Digging in a bit on this end, Ohio was nested with 4 other states – Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin – to form the East North Central region.  While we work more collaboratively with the states of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, it is important to note this distinction when examining the results.

From high level data, such as how much money the average maple customer spends annually…

…to much more specific information, such as this little nugget.  Of all the specific maple products evaluated, Ohio customers ranked maple water as LEAST available – a market opportunity perhaps?

To give you a taste of some of the other data available, here are just a few other bits of information pulled from the MapleMAPS searchable database.

Container material preference – most folks prefer glass and opaque plastic jugs were least popular from a desirability standpoint.

One more – 86% of survey respondents said they consumed at least 1 maple product during the summer, but use was relatively infrequent for most, only about once or a couple times per month.

The MapleMAPS tool is a deep well that can be explored for as long as you have time to dedicate to the database.  And I don’t believe the collaborating partners over-promise on the value of the resource – it is thorough and user friendly and certainly useful.  This is the exact sort of information that can make us all better marketers of our maple.