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!

Registration LIVE for Ohio Maple Days, December 11th

REGISTER NOW!!!

Join us Saturday, December 11th for a day of all things maple!  We will highlight research from Ohio State’s two ACER research grants and introduce you to some of our research partners from West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  Spotted lanternfly is now in Ohio so learn its impacts and how producers can help.  We will also talk about how to improve your public events at the sugarbush, and a presentation on a new opportunity for selling bulk syrup.  The program runs from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with registration opening at 8:30.

The full slate of presentations is as follows:

Ohio’s ACER Grants
Ohio Maple Producer Survey – Sayeed Mehmood, Ohio State University
Reds, Silvers, Rilvers and Sugars – Gabe Karns, Ohio State University,

Spotted Lanternfly in Ohio: How Maple Producers Can Help – Amy Stone, OSU Extension

Forest Management Planning – Kathy Smith, Ohio State University

Is Agritourism in Your Future? – Rob Leeds, Ohio State University Extension

Authentic Appalachia – Mike Rechlin, Future Generations University

Tapping Red Maple – Abby van den Berg, University of Vermont, Proctor Maple Research Center

10/9 Fall into Maple Tour Stop at Ohio State Mansfield

The 2021 International Fall into Maple Tour is scheduled for October 8-17.  On Saturday, October 9th, you have a great chance to visit with members of the Ohio State Maple team at Ohio State Mansfield between 10 AM-6 PM.  Visitors will be able to tour the research sugarbush, purchase OSU maple syrup, and see some new maple educational materials that we are excited to debut.  From 10 AM-noon, we will be serving a pancake breakfast to tailgate for the Ohio State versus Maryland football game that starts at noon.  Look for the event tent in the Ohio State Mansfield parking lot #8 and come see us.

2021 Maple Production: NASS Survey in Review

The 2021 NASS Maple Syrup Production Report was published June 10th.  Production in the United States dropped 700,000 gallons from 4,111,000 in 2020 to 3,424,000 in 2021. Vermont production declined 500,000 gallons from 1,950,00 in 2020 to 1,540,000 in 2021. NY dropped 157,000 gallons from 804,000 in 2020 to 647,000 gallons in 2021. Oddly enough, Maine held steady missing last year’s production by only 5,000 gallons (495,000 gallons total). Maine’s production has been remarkably stable over the last three years. Of the seven states polled only Wisconsin showed an increase in production. The Badger State increased production from 265,000 in 2020 to 300,000 in 2021. Pennsylvania, the closest state to Ohio geographically and often mirroring our production, recorded 165,000 gallons in the 2021 NASS survey, down 13,000 gallons from last year. Ohio is not listed because they and six other states were dropped from NASS’ survey in 2019.

There were many reasons for this year’s decline in maple production. Nationally, sap was collected for 27 days compared to 34 in 2020. In most regions, prolonged cold weather delayed the season start even though this was not reflected in the statistics. The survey actually showed normal start and stop dates; the extended bouts of time when it was too cold for sap to run is obscured in the more general averages and reflected in the total collection days. Many states started around the first of February and then experienced a 3-week shutdown due to abnormally cold weather. This weather pattern was particularly hard on states like Vermont and New York. Once the weather did warm up, temperatures rose quickly and, for the most part, permanently dramatically closing the season by the start of April.

Another statistic worth looking at is number of taps. The number of new taps has not increased dramatically over the last 3 years in the United States. Taps counted 13,400,000 in 2019, declined in 2020, and rebounded back to 13,335,000 in 2021. Only the state of New York has shown a steady increase in number of taps each of the last three years.

Yield per tap is calculated as the amount of syrup (in gallons) produced per tap in any given year, and this measure is determined for each state. The yield per tap declined from 2020 to 2021, hardly a surprise given the shortened season. The United States average declined from 0.314 to 0.257. States like Vermont and New York saw a decline whereas Wisconsin was the only state holding levels above 0.300 gallons per tap.

What goes into a making a good yield per tap? Normally it indicates a higher level of production especially in the well managed sugarbushes. Consider the fact that this is a statewide metric that averages together producers on high vacuum with producers utilizing buckets and bags. A year like 2021 can be especially hard on bucket producers. Anything over 0.300 (roughly 1/3 gallon of syrup per tap) is considered good, and if a state exceeds this level, you can be assured the high vacuum, high volume producers are pushing 0.500 per tap or more. These are all good benchmarks to rank your personal performance as an individual producer. If you are producing just under a half gallon of syrup per tap in an average year you are doing okay. Is there room for improvement? Yes. There are producers in our own state of Ohio pushing one gallon of syrup per tap – a goal to shoot for!

Overall, the NASS 2021 report contained no surprises. Remember this is a domestic United States report only and does not reflect Canadian production. As we all know, north of the border production is what drives the maple market and that is not likely to change anytime soon.  Long story short, United States production fell this year, but syrup in reserve in places like Quebec will likely stabilize the overall market and prevent any large interruptions.

Author: Les Ober, Geauga County Extension

The 2021 Ohio Maple Syrup Production Report

Looking back on Ohio’s maple syrup season, production was lower than last year, but it could have been a lot worse. The season was short for most Ohio producers lasting 30 days or less. Ohio’s crop came in around 70 to 80 percent of normal overall. Because of the warm weather, syrup generally graded out in the Amber to Dark Robust range. However, there was still a fair amount of Golden made in the northern part of the state. If you look at the markets and what customers seem to prefer, this is right in line with the increasing demand for the darker grades of syrup. The earliest start dates were in the last week of January, but early starters were not rewarded this year. A massive cold air invasion that lasted until the 20th of February delayed tapping across the state. Most producers reported their first boil in the last couple days of February or first couple days of March. For nearly everyone, the season ended by March 25th. It is not often that you see seasons this shortened without a total collapse in production. Over the last several years, there seems to be a drop in the percentage of maple sap sugar as well. Percentages of sap sugar were on the lower end again this year averaging around 1.7 percent sugar.

To have a season end because of a combination of too cold, too hot, and too dry conditions is very unusual, but that is exactly what happened in Ohio. Extreme weather once again was the dominant factor in 2021. The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 saw a strong La Nina weather pattern take control of the region’s weather. This resulted in one of the warmest Decembers and Januarys on record. Cold and snow dominated the month of February setting up a chance for a good season even though the start was delayed.   When you consider what happened in February, everyone knew this season would be different from the last several. A massive Arctic air mass (Polar Vortex) drove deep into the heartland of America and dominated February, but the prolonged cold did set up some outstanding early sap runs when things finally warmed. Unfortunately, the ideal sugar making weather would be short lived.

Producers soon realized that the dominant warm weather experienced in December and January was not gone. Hello again La Nina! The return of warm weather did kick off a record sap flow that lasted about a week, but Mother Nature teased local maple producers with a very fickle freeze/thaw cycle that showed no signs of sustaining a sap run through the end of March. The final blow came on March 20th. This would be the last freeze followed by 4 days of 70-degree weather.  Most of the producers lamented the shortness of the season, but if we are honest with ourselves, the unique combination and variety of weather conditions could have dealt a worse blow to production.

We had an excellent season in 2020 and the demand for syrup was outstanding despite the pandemic. Now hopefully, the 2021 season was good enough to take care of the demand until the 2022 season arrives in 8 or 9 more months.

Author: Les Ober, Geauga County OSU Extension

Ohio Maple Days 2021 Presentations AVAILABLE

Despite being virtual due to COVID-19, 2021 Ohio Maple Days – or more accurately Ohio Maple Day sans the “s” – was a success.  The audience, two hundred or so strong, heard presentations on tapping and updates from our ACER grants in addition to how production might be increased with red maple.  A big thanks to this year’s speakers and an extra round of applause for the committee who worked hard on an event that looked quite a bit different than in years past.  One silver lining to having a virtual event is that the sessions are easily recorded.

Visit the Ohio Woodland Stewards Maple page and scroll to the bottom of that webpage to access the different presentations.  Let us know what you think and send us any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions to talk topics for next year!