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.

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.

Southern Syrup Symposium Coming Soon

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, this fall’s Southern Syrup Symposium has been suspended until further notice.  Organizers are working to figure out if a virtual gathering later in the fall can be organized.  We will be sure to update when we know more.

This year’s Southern Syrup Symposium needs to be on your radar especially if you are a producer in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or of course Ohio.  The Southern Syrup Symposium brings together maple experts from all over, but the programming always has a little special emphasis on maple across the southern geographic tier.  This year’s event starts at noon on Friday, September 24th with your choice between 2 field workshops before the full-day program on Saturday, September 25th.  Lots of food and fellowship is mixed in throughout.  Talk topics cover the gamut from forest management to quality tasting syrup-making tips, climate impacts on maple and research updates – including ours!

Registration is open now and is available here.  See you in Morgantown!

July-October Webinar Series through UVM

Beginning Wednesday, July 21st, the University of Vermont is offering an excellent line-up of 8 webinars spanning into October.

The full topic line-up includes Total Yields from Red Maple (7/21), Maple Start-up Profiles and Financial Benchmarks (7/28), Best Practices for Birch Syrup Flavor (8/11), Sugarbush Inventory Methods (8/25), Sap-only Enterprises (9/15), Binding Contracts and Legal Agreements (9/29), Maple Forests and Carbon (10/13), and Northeast Forest Land Taxes and Programs (10/27).  While not all topics will apply directly to Buckeye State maple producers, many do and promise to be highly informative.

Full details with registration links are available here.

Maple Syrup History Site

Some of you may already be familiar with the Maple Syrup History website, but I am sure this will be new news to others.

Maple Syrup History is a smattering of historical accounts, product history, state-based events and turning points, and more – in the author’s own words, “a wide range of interests in all things maple.”  Matthew Thomas, an independent researcher with a PhD in Environmental Studies from University of Wisconsin, has been researching, compiling, and writing about maple history for over 20 years.

With so much content to sift through and peruse, I would encourage you to scroll down and keep your eye on the right margin for the Categories section where you can search specific topics.  OHIO is on the list, that’s a great place to start!

ACER Research Update: June 2021

We are continuing to make progress on our ACER grant “Freeman’s maple (red x silver) potential for syrup production and resilience in Ohio’s forests.”  Earlier in the month, we collected a series of reference samples from Secrest Arboretum and other locations of pure red maples, pure silver maples, and Freeman’s maples to dial in our approach for identifying individual trees in the Ohio State University-Mansfield research sugarbush via genetics.  The Molecular & Cellular Imaging Center at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster is processing the tissue samples in order to refine our genetic markers that are particularly useful for pinpointing hybridity of the Freeman’s or “rilver” maple.

How does one use genetics to identify different species or hybrids between two species?

Labs can slice out key segments of the DNA chain from extracted genetic material from plant cells, tissues, and seeds.  Once the right part of the DNA chain is isolated, a process called amplification copies and replicates the genomic material to make the diagnostic markers easier to interpret.  Polymerase chain reaction (PCR for short) is the most common method of amplification.

Try thinking about amplification this way.

You have no doubt used a photocopier in the past.  PCR is just a biotechnology copying machine.  Just as you might use your office equipment to make 100 copies of a single page out of a big book, PCR allows you to make copies of only the DNA piece that holds the information of interest.  There is one key difference (among many!) between your normal office copier and this biotech PCR process though.  A copier makes a stack of copies 1, 2, 3, 4, …97, 98, 99, and 100.  PCR makes copies more efficiently, exponentially actually – 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, …128, 256, 512, so on and so forth.

Enough about amplification, what can we do with diagnostic markers once we have made a whole bunch of duplicates.  Genetic markers are essentially genetic fingerprints.  The unique segments of DNA – the genetic fingerprints – differentiate different species from one another or show varying degrees of hybridity.  These fingerprints can be visualized with another lab process called gel electrophoresis.  Another big word, apologies.  But the main point is this – gels allow us to see, actually see with the naked eye, the genetic fingerprint of our sample and allow us to decide which species or hybrid we are examining.

Above is a panel of genetic fingerprints for differentiating silver maple on the left and red maples on the right.  The image was published as part of a study in 2019.  You can see that silver maples on the left are characterized by two bright bold lines at the bottom of the panel and a third almost halfway up.  Red maples, on the other hand, share the top and bottom band with silver maples, but have a different unique fingerprint with the second marker landing halfway in between.

Enough Genetics 101 for now…the ACER research continues to progress, and we are working toward a more reliable way of understanding how much red versus silver maple genetics are in our “rilver” research maples.

Author: Gabe Karns, OSU Mansfield & SENR

Maple Programming Survey – Please Participate!

Last week, we shared the exciting news that Ohio Maple Days will be making its IN-PERSON return on December 11th in Ashland, OH.

Ohio Maple Days Save the Date Flyer – December 11, 2021

This week, we want to invite you to participate in a survey to help inform statewide maple programming into the future.  By ranking your interest level across different maple-related topics and providing specific content ideas, we plan to use survey feedback to mold and shape high quality maple programming at Ohio Maple Days and other events – outreach and education that is most useful and most valuable to maple producers throughout the Buckeye State.

Click here to participate anonymously in the survey.