By Doug Graves
ASHLAND, Ohio – Looking for a way to expand your maple business? Looking for a way to transform your maple business into some tasty treats? Or, perhaps you’re maple producer wannabe who doesn’t know where to start.
The 2023 Ohio Maple Days event, Dec. 8-9 at Ashland University, will see a convergence of a variety of Ohio Maple Producers Association members for this workshop for new and veteran maple producers alike. The tempting topics like making maple candy, maple cotton candy, maple infused breakfast sausage and simple granulated maple sugar are certainly the draw to this annual event, but other topics are sure to catch the eye of attendees.
Climate change? Aaron Wilson, of Ohio State University Extension and atmospheric research scientist with the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center,
will address this issue in his talk, “Not so Sweet: Weather & Climate Impacts on Syrup Making.”
Wilson will discuss how weather, climate and maples interrelate. His talk has immediate implications for this current year’s sap run and a long way into the future. He will shed some light on how the upcoming maple season may turn out.
“From increasing winter and spring temperatures to extreme weather events, climate change poses a risk to the maple syrup production community,” Wilson said. “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.”
Kathy Smith, forestry program director for Ohio State’s School of Environmental and Natural Resources, will lead attendees to understanding the variety of maples in their state. Smith has a wealth of knowledge about woodlands, and works with students at OSU’s Mansfield campus researching maple syrup production. Her talk is “Know Your Maples.”
“You can tap and make syrup from maple trees, walnut trees, sycamore trees, birch trees and hickory trees,” Smith said. “All trees have a sap with a certain sugar content. Sycamore tastes nutty and is dark, and birch sap has almost no taste. Producers should know that 60 percent of trees tapped are sugar maples and the remaining 40 percent are either red maple or a red-silver hybrid. The Norway maple is what we call the ‘bad guy’. It’s considered an invasive species in the northeast U.S. and is not common here in Ohio. We don’t encourage tapping the Norway maple.”
Jason Ahrens, of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Food Safety, will discuss syrup labeling and Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) regulations.
“Regardless of whether or not maple syrup is sold from home, a market or elsewhere, it must have a label,” Ahrens said.
According to Ahrens, the label must have a “statement of identity,” that is, the common or usual name of the food product. Second, it must include a “quantity of contents” in ounces. Third is an ingredient list, but Ahren said maple syrup is a single ingredient food and list isn’t required unless using salt or chemical preservatives. Finally, the label must include a “statement of responsibility,” which is the name and address of the business.
“The label should be glued or secured, however, if the container has an unusual shape and sold for a special occasions, the label can be attached as a card,” Ahrens said.
Amy Stone, agriculture and natural resources educator with OSU Extension, will speak about the spotted lanternfly and its effect on maple syrup production.
“Ever since the spotted lanternfly was found in southeast Pennsylvania, it has been causing damage to agricultural plants, as well as non-agricultural plants,” Stone said. “As the insect continues to expand its range, more is being learned about the insect’s lifecycle and its feeding habitats. Since the spotted lanternfly can feed very heavily upon certain tree species, the insect can potentially impact the maple syrup industry.”
Mike Lynch, representative with DL Maple Sugaring Equipment, will discuss tubing installation and vacuuming procedures. Carri Jagger, of OSU Extension, will discuss sap collections systems and the use of buckets, bags, tubing and taps. Mark Erlsten, of the Leader Evaporator Company, will discuss sugarhouses and evaporators in his talk “Sugarhouse 101,” while Sayeed Mehmood, of Ohio State, will talk about enterprise options and economic planning when entering this venture.
There are four topics scheduled for the advanced maple syrup producers. Blake Arthur, with USDA-NRCS, will talk about the many programs available for producers, while Erica Lyon, of OSU Extension, will discuss the possibilities of growing gourmet mushrooms. Smith will provide useful tools to improve production, while a group panel will discuss sugarhouse designs.
Ohio Maple Days will be at the Ashland University Convocation Center, 638 Jefferson St., Ashland, OH 44805. The cost is $45 and includes a continental breakfast and lunch.
For more information contact Woodland Stewards at 614-688-3421 or email@example.com.