Farming Magazine - August, 2009

SUGARING

Northeast Maple Business: 2009 Maple Season

By Larry Myott

In June, the New England Agricultural Statistics office in Concord, N.H., released the U.S. maple production figures for 2009. Speculation from informed sources in the field had placed the crop at one of the largest ever for the industry. That proves to be true.

U.S. production was up 22 percent from the 2008 crop, and the highest on record since 1944. Estimated production in the U.S. is 2.33 million gallons. This is made from an estimated 8.65 million taps, making average production .269 gallons per tap, up 17 percent from 2008.

Discussion at recent meetings had some prognosticators estimating the Vermont maple crop at near 1 million gallons. Not far off, the official production number of 920,000 gallons, or 30 percent of the nation’s crop. This was an increase of more than 30 percent from 2008. With better weather than last season, Maine jumped in production 65 percent to 395,000 gallons. New York once again came in third with 362,000 gallons, up 10 percent from 2008. Wisconsin set a new production record with 200,000 gallons, one-third more than 2008.

Vermont went over the 3 million tap count and their production per tap went to .304 gallons. Both Maine and New York reported about 1.5 million taps.

Other producing states reported as follows, in gallons: Connecticut, 13,000; Massachusetts, 46,000; New Hampshire, 94,000; Michigan, 115,000; Ohio, 90,000; Pennsylvania, 92,000. The Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brusnwick and Nova Scotia have not released any production data yet.

The province of Quebec, with more than 11,000 producers, makes more maple syrup than the rest of the maple world combined. At a recent meeting of the International Maple Syrup Institute, Quebec officials estimated the 2009 crop to be about 117 million pounds, which would be close to 11,000 U.S. gallons.

The jump in production was certainly related directly to the better sugaring weather throughout, but technology is also playing a major roll in increasing production. The industry had been falling behind in maple supplies, with prices rising, the incentive is there to adopt improved production methods. Those production methods are being adopted rapidly. Tubing is being replaced according to current recommended guidelines, the number of taps per line and vacuum system recommendations. Tapping the trees is now science; science has been used to make new techniques and science will continue to be used for development of the industry.

The author is a retired extension maple specialist who continues to report on maple news from around the maple world.