Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many maple producers were forced to cancel open house events during the 2020 sugaring season for the safety of the producers and their customers. This caused a major loss in sales for many maple producers throughout the maple producing region. While COVID-19 is likely to still be a concern for the 2021 sugaring season, we now have a better understanding of the virus and protective measures to keep everyone safe while staying open for business. Those measures and best practices are detailed in this guidance.
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Maple farmers experienced a difficult transition when the COVID-19 outbreak in North America resulted in the shutting down of sugarhouses to the public, particularly during some of the most crucial weekends for in-person maple sales. Sugarmakers had to quickly pivot in order to make up for lost sales in the sugarhouse as well as from wholesale restaurant and school accounts. This shift brought about some creative thinking and innovative solutions to reach customers and promote maple products. Some successful marketing, sales and agritourism strategies have not only helped producers recover lost sales, but have permanently enhanced their future sales approach and marketing plans.
Sap flow and stem pressure in sugar maples during winter dormancy depend on the expansion and contraction of gas bubbles. These gas bubbles are primarily located in the libriform fibers of wood tissues, not in the xylem vessels. Though there are gas bubbles (embolisms) in the xylem vessels, these bubbles are not the dominant drivers of stem pressurization.
Work done at the Uihlein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid during the 2018 and 2019 maple syrup season looked at timing of tapping to best capture the most amount of sap. During this study it was found that trees tapped in late March did not yield as much syrup since they missed early sap runs. Trees tapped in January were able to capture early season sap runs but yield diminished slightly near the end of the season due to microbial plugging.
Processing maple syrup into value-added products can increase product diversity, sales and producer profits. When considering the variety of potential value-added products, such as salad dressings, coated nuts, seasoning products, and sauces, it is important to evaluate the ingredients for their allergen risk potential and add the proper allergen statements to food product labels. This will ensure that you produce quality products and protect potentially susceptible consumers.
The Cornell Maple Program has developed a new, user-friendly tool to calculate how much of each syrup you would need to blend. This calculator will only help sugarmakers using digital light meters that give the percentage of light transmittance (%Tc) through your syrup.
Cottage food laws vary considerably from state to state, and are generally intended to be a way for small farmers and food processors to establish small businesses offering value-added food products. Some states require food producers to pay a fee, obtain a permit or license, or register with the town, county or state. Periodic health inspections of home kitchens and even product testing may also be required depending on location.
As the maple industry has grown, so too has the use of plastic sap tubing. Solutions are needed to help producers dispose of tubing when it is past its useful life, in ways that ensure it is not merely ending up in landfills.
Although several previous studies have examined syrup darkening in different retail containers, packers and producers sometimes question the effectiveness of an oxygen-barrier in reducing the rate of color change. Two studies were performed by the University of Vermont (UVM) Proctor Maple Research Center (PMRC) in 2018 and 2019 to compare the rate of color (LT) change in maple syrup in uncoated and XL-coated retail plastic containers.
The combination of potential crop losses from foam-related incidents, reductions in crop value due to off-flavors, and ultimately the many adverse effects of such a large proportion of organic syrup with off-flavors potentially being sold to consumers, underscore the need to identify or develop a certified organic defoamer for maple production that is both more effective at controlling foam than the culinary oils that are currently used, and which results in no off-flavors when used in the quantities necessary to adequately control foam. Thus, the overall objective of this project was to identify a certified organic defoamer that met these criteria.