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Ohio Maple Boot Camp

We hosted Maple Boot Camp at Ohio State Mansfield on June 22-24.  Carri Jagger, Thomas deHaas, and Kathy Smith pulled this post together for the Buckeye Yard & Garden Online blog.

We cannot hold events of this quality without a lot of help and support.  A big thanks to Carri and Kathy, Mike Lynch from CDL, Mike Hogan of OSU Extension, Sayeed Mehmood, Les Ober, Mike Rechlin, Kate Fotos, and Mike Lucero.  I hope I am not forgetting anyone.  And an especially huge thanks to the Brown family at Bonhomie Acres and Stan Hess for opening up their operations for tours and interfacing with Boot Camp attendees.

Here are a sprinkling of photos to supplement what you’ll see at the linked write-up above.

Ohio State Maple Syrup BACK IN STOCK

The Ohio State Maple Store is back in stock.  Our 2022 syrup inventory has officially hit the shelves, and you can place your order here.

Glass half pints and jug pints, quarts, and half gallons are available.  Orders can be shipped to your door (extra fee) or picked up at the Franklin County Extension Office off Kenny Road in Columbus or from Riedl Hall on Ohio State Mansfield campus in Richland County.

We are so appreciative of the support everyone has shown in purchasing syrup.  Thanks to your purchases, we have employed 5 different students working field-based experiential jobs just this calendar year alone.  One full-time student and 2 part-timers during our 2022 maple research season, and 2 additional full-time positions that just recently completed summer fellowships.

 

Sugarbush Storm Damage

There’s a mainline hiding under there somewhere!

Many Ohio producers experienced damage – some slight and others major – during the derecho that sliced through our state overnight on June 13th.  At the Ohio State Mansfield sugarbush, we thankfully escaped what I would call major damage, but the storm did knock down 30 or 40 trees throughout our woods.

As temperatures start to cool in another month, I hope to get most of the clean-up work done before the crunch of late fall turns into New Year’s panic with the 2023 season breathing down our neck.  For woods like ours, 2 or 3 days of cutting should clear most of the damage.  For others however, hard decisions are being made as the devastation was on a tragic scale.  I recently spent a couple hours in the historic Malabar Farms sugar woods and could not believe my eyes.  Unfortunately, their scenario is not an isolated one.

Whatever your circumstance, be safe out there as you tackle storm damage.  Downed and twisted trees are unpredictable.  If in doubt, don’t.  Don’t be afraid to hire an expert.  Always work with a partner.  Always wear your PPE.  Work with sharp saws.  Document your losses, you may find that damages can be leveraged as a tax reduction claim.

And most of all – BE SAFE!!

North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual 3rd Edition

The Third edition of the North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual is now available for download!  To view the new edition and download an e-copy, simply send a blank email to mapleproducersmanual@gmail.com and you will receive a link to the 434-page Manual.

Hard copies will be available for purchase soon.

Registration OPEN for Maple Boot Camp

Maple Bootcamp: Ohio is for woodland owners looking for an annual income from their woodland or current producers looking to sharpen their skills.  This multi-day workshop will cover everything from tree identification and tree health through tapping and marketing an end product (syrup, candy etc).  There will be tours of a sugarbush that has been in operation for more than 50 years and one that takes advantage of today’s technology.  We will also tour the sugarbush that was installed on the Ohio State University Mansfield campus in 2019 and is a hub for maple research.  Join us June 22-24 for this exciting event.

Registration is $150 total for the 3-day camp.  Sign up here and check out the agenda for more details. 

Participate in the USDA NASS Census

Thanks to Gary Graham of Ohio State University Extension for writing this article.  We have broken it in two parts, but both installments end the same way – with an urge to sign-up, participate, and be accounted for in the USDA NASS Census.  Last week’s first installment focused on what the USDA NASS Census accomplishes and why it is so crucial to participate.  This week, Gary emphasizes why your participation is so important and addresses common misconceptions that hold producers back from contributing.

 

Why should you report?

Would you like to make more money for your production efforts?  Do you like to obtain the latest information and research to help your production process be more efficient?  Would you like to receive assistance making you more economically competitive?  Are you interested in increasing the likelihood that your kids or the next generation will be able to continue to farm?  These and many other direct and personal questions could be asked, and they are all answered by each producer taking their responsibility seriously by reporting production volumes to NASS.  Besides being a civic duty, a federal law requires you to respond to the Census.

My neighbors do not participate because of their cultural beliefs.

We live in the greatest country on earth where we have so many freedoms and choices.  Religious freedoms are a pillar of the foundation our country is built on.  Replying to NASS’s request for information does not infringe upon one’s religious or cultural beliefs.  Participating in the Census merely gives a true accounting of the volumes and values of each commodity in our great country.  Just because you chose to not take advantage of the financial benefits or programs resulting from the Census, you are still bound by law to participate and hurting yourself by not being counted.

My operation won’t make a difference.

Actually, it does.  “Since 1975 a farm is defined as any establishment from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced during a year.”  A little harsh to say but here it goes: “If you’re not a big enough commodity to be counted then you are not important enough to receive help.”  Hundreds of billions of dollars are annually distributed to states based on the information collected from the Census.  These dollars go to improve markets where your products are sold.  Promoting your commodity to consumers.  Providing research and education dollars to help bring the latest knowledge in operation efficiency assisting you in making a better living. It gives you a competitive edge over cooperate farms.  It gives the next generation help to keep agriculture growing.  So YES, it does matter when you don’t report your production.  It hurts you, it hurts other producers, and it hurts the next generation of producers.

I do not know what to do.

It’s easy.  First you need to get signed up so you can be surveyed.  NASS cannot directly visit every person producing an agricultural commodity and ask them to participate.  NASS relies on the honesty and cooperation of producers to voluntarily sign up.  Again, I can’t stress enough this will never open you up to other surveys or government agencies.

 

Before June 30, 2022, sign up for the USDA NASS Census here.  Once signed up, you will receive a Census through the mail in November 2022.  Your completed census needs returned before February 2023.  The data will be analyzed and the results reported in early 2024.

 

Commodity Producers: Your Census Participation is CRITICAL

Thanks to Gary Graham of Ohio State University Extension for writing this article.  We have broken it in two parts, but both installments end the same way – with an urge to sign-up, participate, and be accounted for in the USDA NASS Census.  This first installment will focus on what the USDA NASS Census accomplishes and why it is so crucial to participate.  Next week, Gary emphasizes why your participation is so important and addresses common misconceptions that hold producers back from contributing.

NASS Graphic Color (JPG)

“The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the nation. Through the Census of Agriculture, producers can show the nation the value and importance of agriculture and can influence decisions that will shape the future of U.S. agriculture.  Response to the Census of Agriculture is required by federal law.”

In 1790, President George Washington ordered a Census, counting 4 million Americans on farms.  In 1791 he surveyed famers within roughly a 100 to 250 mile range from the then Capital.  Those farmers surveyed were asked about crops, yields, livestock prices and taxes.  Washington proposed the National Board of Agriculture, but congress rejected it.  The 1840 population Census requested the first detailed agriculture production numbers.  Not until 1862, President Abraham Lincoln established “The People’s Department” which is todays United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  In 1863 the Division of Statistics was established, and this would evolve into today’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS).  If you did the math that is 232 years for population Census’s and 182 years that an agriculture Census has been taken, yet many people do not know about it, nor participate and fail to see the value of this important process. This year (2022) is a Census year and producers need to understand the importance of their participation in the Census of Agriculture.

Let me start with the largest myth and misconception about Census participation.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will come after me and raise my taxes.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Due to the delicate nature of the data NASS collects, they have one of the strictest protocols for data protection.  NASS in bound by law (Title7, US Code, and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Act) to protect private information.  Meaning NASS can never release personal information to any person, organization, nor government agency.  NASS only publishes aggregated data (summarized) and never individual or farm-specific data.

Many producers attitude is that their production information is “for their eyes only” or “nothing in it for me” to participate in the Census.  Again, nothing could be further from the truth.  Not being counted and reporting production hurts every producer.  Rumors and conspiracy theories hurt as they spread lies and false accusations about big brother watching you.  Many misconceptions have been heard over the years and none are valid nor true.  What is true is not everyone participates, and it is hurting agriculture across Ohio and the whole country.

Before June 30, 2022, you need to sign up at the USDA NASS website.  Once signed up, you will receive a Census through the mail in November 2022.  Your completed census needs returned before February 2023.  The data will be analyzed and the results reported in early 2024.

Ohio 2022 Season Summary – “Better Luck Next Year”

I suppose if you had to select one word that would describe Ohio maple syrup production over the last five years it would be “change.” Traditionally, maple trees are tapped on Presidents Day and the season runs until April. In the last five years, producers have been tapping trees earlier and earlier. In some cases in northeast Ohio, the last week of January. In more southerly portions of Ohio, many are tapping even earlier than that. In some years, producers have boiled a large percentage of their syrup in February. In many years – this year being no exception – by the time the Geauga County Maple Festival arrives, the actual maple season is a distant memory.  Seasons like 2020 will be remembered for excellent production. 2021 was dismal and forgettable for most. 2022 is a more difficult year to generalize.  A “one size fits all” label and commentary would be oversimplifying the season.

The first reports that reached my desk were that the 2022 season in Ohio was a bust. A half crop at best and for some that was true. For others, that was not the case. It all came down to location and timing. In parts of the state where you would expect a poor crop in a bad year, a full crop was produced. In more traditional areas of the Buckeye State, the result was less than favorable. Again, it all depended on the specific location of the sugarbush, when trees were tapped, and when the season stalled to a stop.

In Ohio, the 2022 season turned back the clock to a more traditional start. After a very cold and snowy February, the majority of the producers tapped within a week of President’s Day. The 2022 season was also a very intense season. The majority of the syrup was made over a short window between March 1st and St. Patrick’s Day. Heavy snows in February and heavier rain the first part of March resulted in an abundance of moisture in the woods. Two things happen when you have excessive amounts of precipitation. It translates into large volumes of sap, but it can simultaneously lower the sugar content within the sap. In 2022, that certainly was the case. A 60 to 1 sap to syrup ratio was not uncommon.

In the sugarhouse, producers reported that the niter had an uncharacteristic red cast that was hard to filter. For the majority of Ohio sugarmakers, the season ended on March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. A few of the more adventuresome producers hung in until the last major freeze of the season on March 25th but the payoff was negligible. 2022 will be remembered as a continuation of the La Nina weather patterns experienced in 2021. Even with a more traditional start date, the season was again short with few big runs and low sap sugar. If you were lucky, you had an average year at best; however, most will chalk up 2022 as a 2nd consecutive disappointing season.

Mainline in Ohio State Mansfield Sugarbush

Better luck next year?!

Upcoming Webinar on Red Maples

Join Future Generations University’s Out of the Woods webinar series this Thursday evening at 7 PM to hear Dr. Abby van den Berg’s talk “Total Yields from Red Maple Trees.”  Red maple trees are sometimes ignored as crop trees for maple production due to several persistent beliefs, including that they produce lower yields than sugar maple trees.  This study quantified the total annual yields from red maple trees to examine this belief empirically. This talk was captured as part of the Southern Syrup Research Symposium.  Here in Ohio, we were lucky to have Abby speak in December’s Ohio Maple Days event as well on the same topic.

Register HERE

The Southern Syrup Research Symposium was made possible with support from a 2017 Acer Access project titled “Expanding the Maple Industry in West Virginia and the Central Appalachian Region through Research and Education” awarded to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture in partnership with WVU & Future Generations University.