Maple as STEM – PAST Party

We had an opportunity to table as an Experience Partner at the PAST Foundation‘s STEM of Spirits event this past Friday evening.  What a wonderful event and chance to showcase maple as a local food that supports local communities and is full of elegant and interesting science!

We chose a couple engaging angles to highlight the STEM of maple syrup to our guests.  Attendees learned about the differences in cancer fighting properties between early season Golden Delicate syrup as compared to later season Dark Robust profiles.  An informal poll of taste preference ended in a dead heat with the exact same number of people preferring Golden Delicate as Dark Robust.  Each syrup has its own medical benefits (Read more in our September ’23 Maple REVIEW article), and participants decided the only rationale response was to consume copious amounts of both!  Smart folks.

Another activity invited guests to use a sap hydrometer, digital refractometer, and traditional refractometer to calculate Brix of “sap” from 3 different maple trees.  One tree was a healthy full-crowned sugar maple.  The second was a stressed sugar maple.  A healthy “rilver” represented tree number 3.  A graduated cylinder varied sap output volume, and sap Brix varied by tree species and tree health.  A dry erase marker to record data on the tree canopies and some quick calculations to estimate final syrup output, and we transformed the evening’s guests into researchers.  The quick study’s results suggested that while maple species does matter, managing for healthy trees and forests is the highest priority for maple producers – regardless of maple species composition.

A bit of information about spotted lanternfly and some visuals to help showcase Jones Rule and the boiling process rounded out the display.  We’re excited to see Ohio State Maple continue to build momentum as we continue to expand our maple education and outreach footprint.

Lake Erie Maple Expo RECAP

Guest post by Carri Jagger, a MUCH appreciated piece of the Ohio State Maple puzzle!

On November 10th and 11th the Pennsylvania Maple Producers Association and the Northwestern FFA hosted the 2023 Lake Erie Maple Expo in Albion PA.  The Expo kicked off on Friday morning with a variety of sessions from beginning maple production, confections, and value-added products to tubing installation and vacuum.

I had the opportunity to attend the Advanced Tubing and Installation workshop on Friday that was taught by Steve Childs, retired maple specialist from Cornell University.  Steve taught us how to use the basal area angle gauge to estimate the potential number of taps per acre.

Steve also taught about evaluating your current maple tubing system to make sure that it is operating as efficiently as possible.  He shared the Cornell Maple Tubing and Vacuum System Notebook with the class.  You can view and print the notebook from the Cornell Maple Program Notebook Series Website.

On Saturday the conference resumed at the Albion High School where there were 4 concurrent sessions that covered 30 different topics.  I took the opportunity to attend the maple value-added track where I learned about using a glucose meter to check the invert sugar levels in maple syrup.  Determining invert sugar levels are important if you are planning on using your maple syrup for maple candy, sugar, cream and other confections.  If you would like to learn more about making maple confections check out the Cornell Maple Confections Notebook offered at the website above.

I also attended sessions about the distillation of maple and making beverages with maple.  Michigan State and Cornell are both doing extensive research about using late season maple and off flavor maple to distill into a marketable product.  Cornell has created recipes for several maple beverages and those can be found at the Cornell new product development site.

In addition to the conference there was also a trade show to visit with vendors about new and existing maple syrup equipment.  The conference was a great learning opportunity for both new and seasoned maple syrup producers.  The Lake Erie Maple Expo is always the second weekend in November and I encourage you to attend.

 

U-Kentucky/Ohio State Partnership Event

Mixing Big 10 and SEC schools generally results in a brouhaha – not this time.  The University of Kentucky and Ohio State’s Maple team partnered to host a well-attended workshop last Monday evening just across the Ohio River in Boone County, Kentucky.  Strategically located to attract new and existing producers from southern Ohio and across Kentucky, 70 folks showed out for the event.  Beginning outdoors at the Boone County Nature Center, speakers covered topics ranging from maple identification to sustainable tapping practices and showcased demonstrations of different sap collection methods (buckets, bags, tubing) and a steaming boil on the local evaporator.


(Image Courtesy of University of Kentucky)

Along the way, attendees participated in a discussion of different grades and tastes of maple syrup profiled by a couple taste tests.  With a side-by-side comparison, many people were surprised just how different the same basic product – pure maple syrup – can taste.  That taste bud tease led us back to the Boone County Extension Center for a catered City BBQ meal and more presentations on value-added products, a couple short videos on sugarhouse design, and an excellent round of Q&A and conversations that lingered well after the event officially ended at 7 PM.

Many thanks to all who attended, and we look forward to continuing this partnership to expand the good news of maple across the southern tier!  To join up with your local community of maple producers, everyone should strongly consider joining their state association.  The Ohio Maple Producers Association annual event is Friday and Saturday, November 3-4th with Detailed Agenda here and a link to Register here.  The Kentucky Maple Syrup Association is also hosting their Maple School on Saturday, November 4th at the Berea Forestry Outreach Center and there is a button to join their ranks at the bottom of their webpage.

WV Maple Event Opportunity

Southern Ohioans have a great opportunity to slide across the Ohio River to join a wonderful maple event scheduled for October 14th in Wayne, West Virginia.  Just across the water from Lawrence County, OH, our partners at Future Generations University and West Virginia University are putting on a workshop titled “Forest Management for Sap Production: Why You Should ‘Think Maple’ .”

Lunch is provided and the workshop goes from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM and features sugarhouse and sugarbush tours at Tom’s Creek Maple.

Specific talk sessions are as follows:

  • Managing for sap production / Managing for timber production / or both!!
  • Sap collection systems
  • Managing a woodlot for sap production (hands-on and forestry tech talk heavy)
  • Integrating other forest farming activities into your sugaring operation
  • Forest health threats to maple
  • Technical resources through the OH/WV Maple Toolbox

Slots can be reserved by emailing syrup@future.edu.  Don’t miss out on a great learning opportunity to learn from syrupmakers in the far southern tier of what Ohio producers can expect to encounter in maple sugaring.

PA Maple Boot Camp Recap

Maple Boot Camp rotated over to Pennsylvania for 2023 after we hosted it last year in ’22.  The agenda delivered a wealth of information to 20+ lucky attendees who came from backgrounds of “I’ve never tapped a tree before” to “I’m looking to expand into that medium-large producer category.”  Speakers from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania served to make Boot Camp a huge success – a special thanks to Mike Lynch of Baer Brothers Maple for hosting the in-field workshops in his sugarbush and sugarhouse.

Kate Fotos, Les Ober, and Mike Rechlin taught a maple grading seminar to attendees who elected to show up early for a pre-Boot Camp workshop.  Day 1 covered discussions of tree identification,  site and woods evaluation, sugarbush inventory, and tree health assessments, and spanned indoor sessions with outdoor hands-on lab time.  After a wonderful catered dinner, Steve Childs tackled night one of value-added maple products and demonstrated maple sugar and maple cotton candy.  Here is a link to the New York State Maple Confections Notebook that is a testament and legacy to his lasting impact on the maple industry across the region.

Day 2 kicked off with a flipped itinerary to accommodate weather conditions that were less than favorable.  Kudos to everyone’s flexibility and Scott Weikert’s boldness to turn the agenda on its head.  It is hard to imagine the day going much better than it did!  While night two of maple confections featured maple cream and maple candies back in the meeting event space, the vast majority of the day took place in the sugarbush at Baer Brothers Maple.  Sap collection methods and detailed demonstrations of installing and maintaining main line, lateral line, and drop and spout configurations filled the morning.  After a bagged lunch, best practices related to tapping and sanitation practices took center stage.  Semi-structured lectures interspersed with lots of hands-on demonstrations and opportunities for workshop attendees to try their own hands at different skills and techniques carried the day.

While I was not able to stick around for the third and final day, everyone once again caravaned out to Mike’s sugarhouse to see his reverse osmosis and evaporator set-up.  This is such an important component of workshops, but due to time of year, sometimes gets the short end of the stick.  Not this time.  Mike had his system primed with water to get all the steam and the burn which takes an off-season experience to the next level.  Attendees were lucky to enjoy an afternoon closing session on financial planning, operation economics, sales and marketing from one of the best in the industry – Mark Cannella from UVM.

Planning for Maple Boot Camp version West Virginia is already afoot for 2024 – as details begin to fall into place, you can be sure we will share all of the relevant details!

Out of the Woods Webinar UPCOMING

The Out of the Woods webinar series continues this Thursday night, July 20th at 7 PM out of our partner Future Generations University.  The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area (AFNHA) is featuring on this month’s event and will have agroforestry experts speaking to the life of a forest and the benefits these different living organisms bring to the ecosystem.  It might not be as maple-focused as it usually is, but the focus on holistic forest integrity should be integral to any maple producer’s mindset.

The AFNHA “conserves, interprets and promotes forest heritage to enhance landscapes and communities” throughout regions of Appalachia.  Though their focal area are specific counties of Maryland and West Virginia, there is much to be learned from their unique approach to asset-based tourism and community development in heavily forested landscapes.  Here is a beautifully done webpage within their site that walks through the seasonality of different forest edible plants and derivatives.

Register Here Now.

Pennsylvania Maple Boot Camp: REGISTER Now

Maple Boot Camp is going on the road for 2023 and pit-stopping with our neighbor to the east: Pennsylvania.  Scott Weikert and the good folks at Penn State University are hosting this year’s event from September 6-8 in Somerset, PA.  The agenda is fairly similar to last year’s event that we hosted at the OSU-Mansfield campus during the month of June.

To kick things off, attendees can sign up for a bonus maple syrup grading workshop morning of Wednesday September 6th.  The registration link is here.

The official Maple Boot Camp will kick off right after lunch that same day and continue for two and a half days through Friday mid-afternoon.  We hope to see you in Pennsylvania for this signature maple educational opportunity.  It is an excellent deep dive for beginners or small producers thinking about growing their operation.  Veterans will undoubtedly learn a thing or 3 though too as they interact with maple experts and producers from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York.

The Pennsylvania Maple Camp provides intensive, hands-on training for beginner and intermediate maple producers.  The 3-day curriculum begins with sugarbush assessment, then builds sequentially through all phases of maple syrup production from sap collection to boiling, bottling and sales.  Participants will gain the skills necessary for the safe, efficient, and profitable production of maple products.  Camp will include classroom lectures as well as outdoor, hands-on exercises.  Come one, come all, see you in Pennsylvania for Maple Boot Camp!

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.

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.