NNY Ag Development Program looking for maplers to help with research that could double yields
Friday, January 25, 2013 - 6:30 am

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) 2013 Maple Research Project seeks maple producers for research on improving sap yields by as much as 100 percent and increasing maple business profitability.

Maplers who wish to participate must sign up by Feb. 1.

NNYADP-funded maple research supports the opportunity for northern New Yorkers to double their maple income to more than $10 million, based on a survey by Cornell University Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell.

Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Maple Forest in Lake Placid, says research data from maple tap spout-and-dropline combination trials at the Uihlein forest since 2010, and from similar evaluations conducted at Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy in 2011 and 2012, have shown promising results, perhaps doubling yields in some cases.

A dropline is the length of tubing that runs from a spout on the tap in the tree to the lateral line that collects sap.

Researchers are looking to obtain more data to identify which spout-dropline combinations are the best for consistent gain in sap volume under the varying maple season conditions in northern New York. More sap will equate to more syrup and increased profitability for sugarmakers.

Farrell is seeking North Country maple producers who are themselves testing spout-dropline combinations in their own sugarbushes. Ideally they will have enough land that two trial units with similar trees, aspect, elevation, and other factors can be established for comparison. Participating producers will record data on volume and sugar content as well as the time and money invested in the maple equipment and installations associated with the research.

NNYADP grant funding is available to cover the cost of installing water meters to measure sap volume and refractometers to measure sap sugar content in the participating sugarbushes.

This research will compare costs relative to the amount of sap collected with various spout-dropline combinations. A cost/benefit ratio using the current price of maple syrup will help producers evaluate the best strategies for making their sugaring operations more productive and profitable.

Farrell laid the groundwork for this new NNYADP-funded research in 2011.

“We tried eight different combinations of spouts and droplines at Parker Family Maple Farm. The total amount of sap flow was measured every time a load of sap was collected and transferred to the sugarhouse. The results in the first year indicated the opportunity for sap gain,” Farrell says.

The work at Parker Family Maple Farm continued in 2012 and Farrell developed a protocol for determining the best spout-dropline combinations in other sugarbushes that will be tried in the 2013 research trials.

Producers interested in participating in the Improving Sap Yields and Profitability in NNY Maple Sugaring Operations project may contact Farrell at (518) 523-9337 or mlf36@cornell.edu by Feb. 1.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program provides research, outreach, and technical assistance to all sectors of the agricultural industry in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. The program has funded maple sector projects on the impact sugarbush thinning on maple production and maple forest management, and production workshops on making value-added maple confections. There is more online at www.nnyagdev.org.