Yes, it was better than the abysmal years of 2016 and 2017; Ohio Production for 2018 is reported at 90,000 gallons, eighth in the nation. This was the amount reported by USDA Nass in today’s June 2018 Crop Report. Let us take this report apart and see if you believe the results.
In the respective years of 2016 70,000 gal., 2017 80,000 gal., both of which were believable considering the extremely warm , season shorting weather that Ohio producers experienced in both years. 2018 was a different scenario altogether. Most producers I talked to did not have a great year but they did do respectable. Respectability comes in the form of a paltry 10,000-gallon increase in production. I know of five producers in NE Ohio that could have accounted for those 10,000 gallons. Now let us look at the number of taps. It remained the same as 2017 400,000 taps for the entire state of Ohio. The only believable statistic is the yield per tap of 0.225 resulting from the low sugar content in the sap. Let us compare how neighboring states did. Pennsylvania produced 142,000 and Michigan produced 125,000 gallons respectively. That has to be a tough pill to swallow for any Buckeye Supporter. The big winner, no surprise, Vermont with 1,940,000 gallons. New York overcame a lot of cold weather to produce a new high of 806,000 gallons. Maine produced 539,000 gallons, down from 709,000 in 2017 but they were in a deep freeze late in the season.
If my remarks seem somewhat caustic, I apologize. Yes, you can blame it on the weather or you can blame it on apathy on the part of the producers. Unfortunately, it has become a well-known fact that Ohio Maple Producers do not want to report their production. In addition, it could be the reporting system is partially to blame. Let’ s face it with a large portion of the syrup being produced in the Amish Community and a system that depends more and more on computers to get results there may be a problem. I back this up with the fact that only 400,000 taps was reported, and if that is the case, the number of taps in Ohio has literally stood still for almost ten years. No expansion in Ohio! I do not believe this to be the case. I cannot prove it but I think there are 400,000 taps in NE Ohio alone.
So why is this important? If you believe, what is reported and you are a maple producer you are now involved in a stagnant agricultural industry that is going nowhere. Whether you the producer, believes it or not, does not matter. It is what the local and state governments believe that counts. It is what Ohio State University, your agricultural educational institution believes, that counts. Right now House Bill 66 sits in front of the state legislature. If the bill passes and is signed into law maple producers would receive a significant reduction in their land taxes. At very least it might change the way counties look at CAUV for maple producers. In addition, OSU College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is being asked by the Ohio Maple Producers Association to employ additional staff to work with maple producers. Do you think this report is incentive to act on that request? More than anything else, what kind of message are we sending to Ohio consumers. If all they hear is the negative, will they believe that we have good supply maple syrup in Ohio, or should they continue to buy Vermont Syrup off the shelf ? It is time that we look at how we measure the value of the Ohio Maple Syrup Industry to Ohio’s agricultural economy. As producers, we owe it to ourselves to see that the majority of the syrup we produce goes in the record book. The future of the Ohio Maple syrup industry may depend on it.