This page is an update on how the season is progressing across the state of Ohio from first tapping to the final boil. The reports are posted from first to last with the most recent posts at the top. Last year we had reports from all over the state and from some of the neighboring states. You guys from West Virginia, New England, New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana are welcome to join in. If you have a question on maple syrup production I will do my best to answer it via personal mail. I will try to post all of the reports within 12 hours, but occasionally I get sidetracked with a big run. You can send your report on maple syrup production in your sugar bush or in your area to Les Ober at email@example.com .
March 4, 2018
It is tapping Sunday on the square in Chardon, Ohio. This the ceremonial start of the maple season in Geauga County. It is also the first weekend of the Ohio Maple madness Tour. We also know that March is Maple Month in Ohio and elsewhere. The question that I have in my mind is; Is March the new April when it comes to making maple syrup, at least in Ohio. Sure seem that way when you look at the weather patterns of the last three years.
I just got back from a trip touring central Ohio. What I found was evidence that if the maple syrup industry is going to survive in locations other than NE Ohio, producers are going to have to rethink their game plan. I visited two locations in that region The Butcher Family South of Mt Vernon and the Brown Family north of Mt Vernon. in both cases the Red Maples were in full bloom. For the Butcher Family maple 5700 tap operation which has more than a few Reds, it means that the season is close to being over. For the Browns, with 6000 taps, sugar maples are the prominent species. For them there is hope for several more runs. Justin Butcher, who is looking at one half crop, summed it up this way, ” You have to tap in January or you will not have any chance at a normal crop”. Kelly Brown said that they were doing as good as they could expect, with weather they have been having. Dan Brown said that they only boiled 7 times this year where last year at this time they had boiled 21 times. Being able to adapt to the weather is vital for operations like these that depend on the income from maple to support their families.
In the northern Ohio where extremely cold weather has intermingled with extremely hot weather the results have been much same. The saving grace is that we are now cold and the next 10 days looks promising. We are on the verge of another below average year and that will be the third year in a row. I encourage everyone to keep good records on your production. This will give the information you need analyze your operation and make decisions that can help you adapt to our ever changing environment.
February 23, 2018
2018 Maple Season Update
This the first time that I have to sit down and put the last 6 days into perspective. I believe you can honestly say that all of the major maple syrup producers in Ohio are now tapped. I can also say state with confidence that most are extremely tired at his point. The run we had over last weekend and the first two days of this week was phenomenal. It was as heavy run as I have seen in the last 10 years. Of course, when you start with freezing conditions and two days later hit 75 degrees. You are going to have sap and lots of it. Now the question becomes, did that high temperature damage our chances for a normal season. We saw a similar scenario play out last year but conditions were different. In 2017 we had cold weather the first week on January and then it warmed up and never really got cold after that. A record high temperature of 77 degree established on February 24. Leading up to that it was in the sixties and it remained in the sixties for the rest of the month. This year we had a very cold January and a cold start to February and a record high temperature on February 20. We are predicted to remain above freezing during the rest of February but cold weather is forecast to return the first two weeks of March. Because of the extreme cold we had early on, the trees in NE Ohio are not showing bud with the possible exception of the Silver Maples. Down State below Interstate 70 it may be a different.
Locally all of producers made good amounts of syrup on the last run. The quality ranged from Amber to Dark Robust. The big concern is the percentage of sugar in the sap. Producers have reported sap sugar at below one percent up to 2 % with the majority around 1.5 percent. That means you can RO 1500 gallons of sap to 10 % and end up with a between 100 and 200 gallons of concentrate. Even though the runs have been good, I think the low sap sugar percentage and the return of a record high in February for 2018 may be dampening the expectations for the 2018 season.
I will post individual sugar bush reports on Facebook.
February 13, 2018
We are now one week away from Presidents Day and the new maple season is ramping up. Here is what is going on in Ohio and surrounding States. The early tappers at Geauga Maple, Bissell Maple Farm and Sugarbush Creek farm in Geauga County have individually made over 200 gallons of syrup. Others such as Cross Brothers Maple in lake County and Goodell Family Farm are now tapped and awaiting the mid-week run. Down State Bonhomie Acres Maple Syrup in Knox County is now tapped in Knox County. Thomas Ireland Smith Farm in Morrow was tapped in January is back up in operation after a 2 week layoff from cold weather. John from SW Ohio is tapped but the runs are slow. That should change this week.
Out of state, there where multiple operations making syrup in January. Triple Creek Maple and Casbohm Maple and Honey in NW Pa were both tapped before the freeze up. In WV just about all of the operations are up and running. Josh Drake in RI is into is 2nd run.
Follow us and like us on Facebook. I will be posting the seasons progress weekly on the blog but you can get the up to the minute posts on Our Facebook Page. Do not forget that on the first two weekends in March you can visit many of these maple operations on the Ohio Madness Tour. You will also be able to visit many of the maple operations in NW Pa on March 17 & 18. on there Taste and Tour.
Its Groundhog Day 2018. The great weather predictor from Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has done his thing. I would have said, spoken but we are talking about a groundhog here, so let’s keep it real. Phil came out of burrow, not by choice, because the temperature was in the teens and the wind was hollowing. All indication was, that he saw his shadow, and we are headed into six more weeks of winter. Of course, anyone who follows the Ohio Maple Blog, realizes that was prediction all along. By the way Buckeye Chuck also saw his shadow. Last year both did not see their shadow and you know how that worked out.
The reality is that Phil is on the same page as the local weather guys who are predicting below normal temperatures and above normal snowfall for most of February. Locally several producers did tap and made upward to 150 gallons of syrup. This once again proves that January can be a bonus month for maple syrup production. For the producers on high vacuum, the risk is minimal. They will ride out this cold spell by turning the pumps on anytime the lines get close to thawing out. That is the beauty of a vacuum tubing system. There is also minimal risk for producers with 3/16 tubing that is installed on adequate slope. For the rest, it will be a wait and see scenario.
For those who decided to wait, and I am one of those producers, it is time to get ready. You need to be tapping when the next warm spell arrives. There is no reason to put off tapping once you reach the 10th of February because you never know what is ahead in the month of March. The focus know should be to boil on as many days as you can over the next seven weeks. The maple season is here and it is game on. Wishing all a Happy Groundhogs Day.
Cannot make the program? You can down load the new Hobby Maple Syrup Production Fact Sheet at Hobby Maple Syrup Production
For many of you, this information will be after the fact because you have already decided that January is a good time to tap. In fact the last 10 days of the month has had some very good weather for sap flow. If you live in the southern states or even southern Ohio the decision to tap was a good because you are never guaranteed a season past mid March. However, this post is directed more to the producers up north that are on the fence about tapping. I present three maps for your consideration. The top graph is the temperature forecast for NE Ohio from AccuWeather. Their 30 day forecasts have been reasonably reliable. The solid orange line is the average temperature for the given dates The broken orange line is the daily highs and the broken blue line is the daily low temps. Once we get past the 5th of February it appears the we are going to drop below normal and stay there until the end of the month. Again this is a 30 day outlook but it matches up with what all of the local weather stations are predicting.
The Next graph is NOAA Weathers Forecast for February. This Graph is indicating we will have equal chances of being above normal, normal or below normal, at least for Ohio. What is interesting, is all of the above normal weather extending up into New England.
The last Graph is the AccuWeather Forecast for Underhill Vermont, home of the UVM Proctor Maple Research Center. I picked this location because they do a marvelous job of tracking weather data. There temperatures graph appears to be slightly milder than the Ohio graph, with a couple of above normal spikes. The thing to notice is the sharp rise in the daily high temperature’s at the end of February.
I hope this information will help to make your decision easier. Keep in mind that these are along range forecasts and they are subject to error. Also keep in mind if they are right and you tap this weekend, your window to collect sap will be very narrow and you could be frozen out for three weeks or longer. Also consider what the capabilities of your collection system.
It is New Year’s Day 2018 and I am looking out my window at scene straight out of Frozen. I am also contemplating how this polar vortex, we have been locked into for the last 10 days will affect the 2018 maple sugaring season. What a difference 12 months makes! Last year it was 60 degrees on Christmas Day. We had just come through a very warm fall and many producers wondered how the abundance of warm weather would affect sap flow. We did get some cold weather the first week of January but what happened after that first week was record was one for the record books.
I wrote on January 12th that taping was underway, not just in Southern Ohio, but North East Ohio and on up into New England as well. It was called the earliest maple season ever. The Maple News documented the early tappers in action. As hard as it was to believe, January was the month to make syrup in 2017. February turned out to be a bust, ending in 70 plus temperatures on February 24th. The season came to an abrupt end in Ohio the first week of March. The 2017season in Ohio will be remembered for its early start and early finish. For Northeastern producers the windfall of good syrup production continued on into April producing some of the biggest crop ever in the New England and Quebec. What about 2018?
The long range forecast is calling for the first 10 days of January to be brutally cold for everyone. That could be followed by a January Thaw but nothing like the warmup we experienced in 2017. Starting in February, the crystal ball of weather predictions gets a little hazy. It appears that Ohio and Pa. will revert back to normal or below normal. I hope someone can refresh my memory as to what normal really is, because it has been so long since I experienced normal I forgot what it looks like. If the forecast is right the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and Northern Ohio will stay frozen through part of February. This may also hold true in New York and parts of New England, but in areas along the coast it could go above normal, as the weather fronts move up the east coast. Those weather fronts could mean heavy snow for those areas. That brings us to March where a warming trend could take place across the region. All of this is driven by a strengthening La Nina. In 2018 March could once again win back the title of Maple Month.
Ok we all know that these long range forecasts are heavily dependent on the “SWAG” factor leaving everyone guessing. So what should you do to get ready for the 2018 season? Now is the time to get into the woods and make sure your lines are up and ready to go. That is unless you live in places like Erie Pa. where they currently have 52 inches of snow on the ground. In that case go to your closest outdoor equipment shop and buy several pair of snowshoes, your going to need them. Now is the time to watch the weather trends, especially going into February. With new technology we can tap two months in advance and still not take a hit on yield. The heavier the snow accumulation, the more preparation is needed, because it takes a lot more time to get ready when you are dealing with heavy snow and cold. Remember, trees do not care how much snow is in the woods. When it warms up and the snow starts to melt they start to run. If we have learned anything from the last 5 seasons it should be that maple sugaring seasons do not creep in like they did in the old days. The weather can change drastically overnight and you have to be ready when it gets here. This year the early bird may not get the worm, it may be the one that is able to recognize the season when it gets here that will be the winner. Do not get caught with you buckets (lines) down.
This is the first of many posts on the Ohio Maple Blog. Follow us on line and on Facebook. We will be tracking the 2018 season on Facebook so send your progress reports and pictures to the Ohio Maple Blog Facebook Page. Educational articles will be posted directly to the Blog and if you follow us on Facebook you will receive them. If you are not on Facebook then view the blog on line to read the latest posts. Remember we also have the new Hobby Maple Production Fact Sheet available on line. There will be a link posted on the blog. Post questions to our Facebook page and I will do my best to answer them in a timely manner. Thank you for supporting the Ohio Maple Blog and I hope all of you have a Happy New Year and a productive 2018 maple season
Les Ober Geauga County OSU Extension
The Snow is falling in Geauga County and we are guaranteed a White Christmas. In a few short weeks we will once again be in the woods do in what we love the most. In the mean time take time to enjoy the holiday with friends and family. Here is a special holiday thank you to everyone who has taken the time to view the Ohio Maple Blog over the last year. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Les Ober OSU Extension Geauga County.
One of the most popular fact sheets on the Ohio State University’s Ohioline has always been the Hobby Maple Syrup Production fact sheet. Ohioline is the source for all of the fact sheets published by OSU Extension and the College of Food Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The Original fact sheet was written by OSU State Forestry and Maple Specialist Dr. Randall Hiligmann emeritus. That fact sheet has served as a guide for thousands of new aspiring maple producers. Anyone who has made maple syrup in the backyard knows that it is truly something that the whole family can enjoy. At the end of the season you are left with some fond memories and a container of maple syrup that the entire family can enjoy. It may not be the best maple syrup you have ever tasted but it is your maple syrup. That is what makes this hobby and the publication popular.
It has been an honor to work with co-author, OSU Forestry Specialist Kathy Smith to bring you an updated version of the Hobby Maple Syrup Production fact sheet. You can download a copy of the new fact sheet at : Hobby Maple Syrup Production
I hope you enjoy this publication and find it useful and may your upcoming maple season be long and sweet.
Les Ober Geauga County OSU Extension
Below is a letter from the President of Hillside Plastics, Peter Haas.
Dear Sugarhill® Customer,
As you may know, Hurricane Harvey created record damage to the petrochemical industry since it made landfall in Texas. The impact of the storm has been substantial creating significant outages and logistics challenges. The lingering flooding continues to pose a threat to the plastic bottle industry via disruption in supply. As a direct result of the damage created by Hurricane Harvey, our resin suppliers declared Force Majeure earlier in September.
We having been doing everything in our power to secure back-up stocks, shift logistics to find alternate means to avoid interruption of supply, etc. Thus far, despite being on Force Majeure allocation, we have been successful in preventing any significant interruptions to our customers. Our priority continues to be to do everything we can to continue to provide you quality product with minimal interruption of supply.
This situation has resulted in substantial cost increases for HDPE resin and the logistics to have it delivered to our facility. To that end, we must increase prices by 10%, effective with shipments on 10/1/17 and thereafter.
As always, we sincerely appreciate your business and understanding of this necessary increase.
262 Millers Falls Road
Turners Falls, MA 01376
Les Ober, OSU Extension Geauga County
It is hard to believe that it has been six years since the concept of developing a maple syrup educational tradeshow, located in the central maple syrup producing region of the country, became a reality. Traditionally the majority of the educational seminars, on maple production, have been centered in New England and New York. The idea of bringing a maple syrup expo to the shores of Lake Erie was definitely a long shot. However, the LEME planning committee, made up of producers from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York put together a program that was designed to meet the needs of maple producers in this region. They also realized that they could tap into a whole new audience that were not making the trip to the eastern programs and would really appreciate a chance to attend a maple syrup tradeshow in their home region. The LEME popularity has grown proportionally over the last 5 years. Over 500 producers came to the LEME last year. This year’s edition will continue to raise the bar when it comes to maple syrup education.
What can producers expect when they walk through the doors on November 10 & 11, 2017? On Friday the LEME will present a series of 4 hour workshops where producers have the opportunity of focusing on one specific topic. One of the highlights this year’ workshop series will be a Woods Walk and Talk with Glenn Goodrich. This workshop will offer a rare opportunity to learn the basics of sugarbush layout and design from one of the most respected experts in the maple Industry. Another area many producers struggle with is tree health and management. To address this topic the LEME has once again invited Cornell University Extension Forester Dr. Peter Smallidge who will present a workshop on Sugarbush Management. For producers interested in a more in-depth look at maple syrup processing there will be three workshops to choose from. This year’s Boiling Workshop will be presented by Kevin Lawyer from the Leader Evaporator Co. RO information is always in demand and the LEME has once again invited NY Maple Specialist Stephen Childs to discuss RO’s For the Small Producer. One of the most talked about areas in maple production is the adoption of the new grading system and how it relates to maple syrup quality. Les Ober from OSU Extension along with Ohio Maple Producer and Maple Products Judge James Miller will go in-depth on the topic; Maple Grading and Quality Assurance How Can It Help You? Other workshops include a Beginners Workshop with Laura Dengler and Mark Lewis, A Museum Talk with Janet Woods and a Confections Workshop with Jake Moser. The registration for the Workshops is separate from the Expo registration. The cost to attend a 4 hour workshops is $30.00 which includes lunch.
After the workshops the program shifts back to Northwestern High School where the tradeshow will open at 5:00pm. The program will include maple equipment and more maple equipment along with a panel discussion at 6:30 pm. With all of the expansion in the maple Industry and the recent down turn in bulk prices, have you ever wondered “Where is The Maple Industry Headed?” The panel of expert’s discussion topic, by the same name, should shed some light on the subject. Panel members include Glen Goodrich of Goodrich Maple, Carl Lapierre from Lapierre Maple Equipment and Joe Orefice, newly named Director of Cornell’s Uihlein Forest Research Center. If you are interested in knowing what the future may hold for the North American Maple Industry in the next 5 years and beyond, you will not want to miss this discussion.
On Saturday the Trade Show will open at 8:00 am followed by concurrent seminars where producers will be able to choose from over 40 different topics. Here is a sampling of the topics at this year’s LEME. Center Acer’s Martin Pelletire who will discuss the Center’s research on Off Flavors. Cornell University is represented by four speakers in this year program. NY Maple Specialist, Steve Childs will demonstrate how to use Vacuum Cooling to improve making maple candy and cream and an overview of maple research at the Cornell Maple Program. Dr. Peter Samllidge will present several programs related to sugarbush improvement and tree health. Joe Orefice will present two topics on timber production. Mark Cannella from Cornell’s Cooperative Extension will discuss putting together a business plan for your maple operation. Les Ober from OSU Extension will offer two programs for the new producer. Industry presentations include; The Principals of Vacuum and Pump Selection with Carl Lapierre, a boiling seminar by Leader Evaporator sugarbush monitoring systems from Marcland and a Spin-Fusion demo from CDL. There will also be a wide variety of programs on confections and value added products presented by local and regional producers. A complete updated list of this year’s topics will be available by Mid-September.
Come join your fellow maple producers at the 2017 LEME, November 10 & 11, 2017 at Northwestern High School in Albion Pa. Friday morning the workshops will start at 10:00am at different venues across the area. Friday evening the doors to tradeshow open at 5:00pm and the show will run until 8:00 pm. The evening program will begin at 6:30pm in the Auditorium. Saturday’s program will start with the tradeshow at 8:00am the educational seminars will begin at 9:00. The cost of both Friday evening and all day Saturday programs is 40.00 dollars. Lunch is included. Please plan on preregistering by Oct 15th. A late registration fee will be charged after that date. For complete registration information go online to the Northwestern Penn. Maple Producer Association website www.pamaple.org