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Ontario Producer Celebrates 75 Years of Maple

Cecil Cass received the Ontario Maple Syrup Award from the Ontario maple Producers’ Association in 2013 to recognize his 75 years and seven generations of making maple in Eastern Ontario.

Bruce Gillian of Leader Evaporator recently presented his “Boiling 101” presentation at the Eastern Ontario Maple Workshop this past November.  At one point he asked everyone to stand up because he was going to recognize someone in the room but didn’t know who it would be.  He started by asking who has not made any syrup yet or has boiled for their first time.  Several hands went up, he congratulated them, then asked them to sit down.  He then asked who had been boiling for 5 years or less, congratulated them, then asked them to sit down, and then asked again about 10 years.  At this point a third of the room was sitting.  He continued on in five year increments until at the 45 year mark only two gentlemen were still standing.  Five years continued to be added until finally at the 60 year mark the second to last producer finally sat down.  Determined to finish the exercise Bruce added 5 more years… 65… 70… “Okay sir.  How long have you been boiling?”  Cecil Cass of Eastern Ontario with a big grin on his face answered with “75 years and still going.”

Cecil Cass is now 86 years old and has personally been making maple syrup for three quarters of a century.  Starting as a young boy he helped out his father after school and on the weekends during the Second World War years but maple has actually been made on the farm since the Cass family first immigrated to Canada back in 1798, a short 15 years after the end of the American Revolution.  The farm name Cassbrae was chosen for the property in 1958 after their own family name and is a Scottish term for “hillside along a river” – which is a perfect designation for this remarkable farm standing up hill on Cassburn Road and overlooking the Ottawa River.  The farm now spans seven generations and 1000 acres and celebrated its bicentennial in 1998, the year of the devastating ice storm in Eastern Ontario & Quebec.  Cecil’s farm is mostly cash crops today but with a good interest in heifers, fire wood, and maple syrup after buying up most of the local smaller farms as other farmers retired or families moved on.  Not one to shy away from new maple technology Cecil was the first to embrace developments like oil fired evaporators and reverse osmosis to cut the amount of labour involved.  In both cases he was the first within the region to own and operate each new technology and has recently upgraded to a new high concentrate RO.  He fully admits that had the new high efficiency wood evaporators been invented years ago he would have skipped right over oil to wood fired gasification. 

Currently running about 3300 taps with 1200 of them still on buckets due to the nature of the bush most sales are farm gate with some bulk to local producers and a family member selling in the nearby City of Ottawa.  His first pipeline was installed about 20 years ago but was ravaged by squirrels the first few years well beyond the damage levels caused to today’s type of tubing.  Cecil is helped by three other family members during the maple season along with a few local part time young people as needed.  The Ice storm of 1998 destroyed most of his tubing installation and severely damaged the maple forest but in those days lime was allowed to be spread by airplane and Cecil had already had his bush limed at the same time as his neighbouring agricultural fields.  After the ice storm his bush filled with new maple growth setting him ahead of the curve on regeneration.

One of the original members of the Eastern Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association (one of eleven chapters within the Ontario Producers Association), Cecil has been president of the Local three times in the past five decades and is still an active member of the board of directors some 50+ years later in addition to continuing to serve on a half dozen other agriculturally based boards.  “It’s a changing times in agriculture and I always like change.  There are many new technologies coming out in maple these days making things better, faster, or more cost effective” Cecil tells me.  “Toughest time was just after the war bottling in old wine bottles and 5 or 10 gallon cans after food rations had finally been lifted.  We used to seal the bottles with wax and seems no one got sick and the syrup kept alright”.  Cecil still has today food ration coupons from the mid-forties for sugar. For those don’t know many main food staples were rationed in Canada between 1942 and 1947 in an effort to support the troops and European civilians during, and for a time after, the Second World War and sugar was one of the first to be rationed due to its use in shells and bombs.  Even maple syrup was rationed at one point but most farms had their own stash down in the root cellar.  “In the early years it was hard times with a tremendous amount of snow to get through.  Often the horses had to be taken off the sleigh and walked through the snow just to make a trail to pull the sleigh because the snow was too deep.  Syrup prices were so low then too.  Those were hard times.”  Asked if he will ever retire he simply responds “All depends on our health.  You never know.  Things can change quick.  I always believed in working with people and working for people. That got me a long piece.  I am always quiet and would never scrap with them.  You got to give in a little bit.” 

In 2013 Cecil and his family were honoured by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association at their annual Sumer Tour by being presented the Ontario Maple Syrup Award.  On behalf of the Eastern Local of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association we wish Cecil and his family many more years of sugaring to come and thank him for his continuing 50 years of service to our group.

 

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New ALB Infestation Found in Ohio

Following are excerpts from a news release distributed today regarding a new Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) (ALB) infestation found in Clermont County, OH:

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) today announced the discovery of Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infested trees in a section of the East Fork Wildlife Area in Clermont County.”

East Fork Wildlife Area consists of 2,705 acres that are managed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife for public hunting and fishing in southwestern Ohio. It is unlawful for any person to remove wood from a wildlife area without first obtaining approval.

The center of the newly discovered infestation is within the Williamsburg Township portion of the East Fork Wildlife Area, south of Clover Road. Tree inspection crews will continue to survey the area and surrounding areas to determine the extent of the infestation. Using ground surveyors and specially trained tree climbers, crews will inspect host tree species susceptible to ALB for signs of the wood-boring beetle. Any trees found to be infested will be removed as part of the eradication effort.

Once the extent of the infestation is evaluated, ODA will move to expand the ALB quarantine to include additional areas near the new infestation. When available, a map of the regulated areas will be posted …”

ALB has a history in North America of infestations starting from single points of introduction with beetle “founders” arriving directly from Asia.  Multiple related infestations then evolve in a region with their size and number being dependent on how long ALB remains undetected.

ALB in Clermont County, OH, has followed a trajectory similar to infestations in other regions.  The original infestation discovered in 2011 near Bethel in Tate Township produced satellite infestations discovered in nearby Monroe Township (2011) and Stone Lick Township (2012).  It is known that infested materials had been moved prior to the discovery of ALB in Ohio.  It is not yet known how the new infestation in the East Fork Wildlife Area became established; investigations are underway.

It was encouraging that no new ALB infestations had been found in Ohio since 2012.  However, the new discovery reminds us that we must remain vigilant.  The following images show key diagnostic features that can help you detect an ALB infestation.  Although ALB will develop on trees belonging to 12 genera, maples (including boxelder) are by far the most preferred hosts. 

 

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Dr. Mike Farrell Resigns from Cornell University

An open letter to the maple industry from Michael Farrell, Director of Cornell University Uihlein Forest Maple Research Center in Lake Placid, N.Y:

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Dear Maple Producers

I took over as Director of Cornell’s Uihlein Forest in January 2005. Over the past ~12 years, I’ve met thousands of producers with a passion for the industry, and who share my dedication and enthusiasm.  I have truly enjoyed the time spent at Cornell and my opportunity to serve maple producers.  However, all good things eventually come to an end, and though it was a very difficult decision, I have decided to move on to a new opportunity. 

As of July 1, 2017, I will be stepping down from my role at Cornell and starting as CEO of Adirondack Management, a recently formed company focusing on sustainable investments in the forestry sector in the Northeast. The company is a partnership between myself and two successful businessmen who share our passion for the maple industry. Although the name was chosen based on the primary focus area in the Adirondacks, we will work throughout the maple belt. The overall objective of the company is to acquire forestland and manage it for sustainable yields of multiple forest products, in particular maple and birch sap/syrup.  

We will be focusing on both production and marketing, with the goal of developing new markets for maple and birch products. Although we will have some sales to traditional markets in the Northeast, our primary focus is in developing new markets for sap and syrup outside of the maple belt, both nationally and internationally.  We are optimistic about the future of the industry, and I look forward to continuing to develop the maple resource, now from the private sector.

I will continue to serve as the director of the Uihlein Forest until June 30, 2017, and have provided a lengthy notice to ensure a smooth transition with the new director. I dedicated myself over the past decade towards building up and improving the Uihlein Forest, and I feel it is essential the Uihlein thrives as a valuable resource for the entire maple industry. I will continue to live near the Uihlein Forest and plan to stay active and engaged with the Cornell Maple Program, providing support for any projects that I am requested to assist with.  The director’s position is now being advertised with the goal of having the new director start in advance of or during the 2017 sugaring season, allowing for plenty of overlap to ensure a smooth transition.  If you know of someone that would be a good candidate for the position, please share this announcement with him or her. 

Thank you very much for your continued support.

Sincerely

Michael Farrell

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Adding Maple Production to Farm Profits

mernaAccording to Statistics Canada, Ontario maple syrup producers produced approximately 2.2 million litres of maple syrup in 2011, valued at $32 559 million. Ontario is the province that produces the second largest volume of maple syrup in Canada, following vastly behind Quebec and ahead of New Brunswick. In a study conducted in 2010 for the Fédération des producteurs agricoles du Québec (FPAQ), the maple sugar industry in Ontario has a strong development potential, especially on Crown land. Apart from its current economic importance, the sector has an important historical and cultural value, especially in the rural regions.  The Ontario sector is characterized by a tendency towards adding value through specialty products such as maple butter, candies, taffy and gourmet products. Furthermore, it has a competitive advantage in its proximity to important urban centers and the United States market. Maple syrup festivals held in various towns and villages show the upward cultural and economic dynamics of an industry that is far from having reached its full potential. The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA), the main representative body of maple syrup producers in the province, counts approximately 500 members. The Association provides them with information, network services, marketing, and training. It also represents the maple syrup sector at various levels of government alongside private and academic partners. It provides consumers with information on the benefits of using maple products and on where to obtain locally produced maple syrup.

Currently Ontario maple producers can only supply 60% of the Ontario market with the balance being imported from Quebec without factoring in exports.  Any farm or woodlot owner wondering if maple products could add to their revenue should know the answer is a resounding “yes”.  Like many commodity groups the Ontario Maple Producers Association attends many agricultural, woodlot, and conservation events each year promoting local producers and the association.  At every event we are approached by cash croppers or woodlot owners looking to add to farm revenue with questions on how to get started or costs involved.  Several studies have shown that the sustainability of maple production will outperform the cash income produced by lumber production for a hardwood woodlot with proper management practices.  What most people do not realize is that despite Quebec producing approximately 72% of the world’s supply of maple syrup Ontario actually has more tapable trees than Quebec and has the potential to dominate world supply.

While there is a learning curve involved with maple production and equipment can be expensive the maple season easily incorporates into cash crop operations, hobby farms, and woodlots given the season arrives after a long winter of indoors but before any yardwork or seeding can take place.  Maple production is a perfect add on to your farm profits if you have a maple stand located on your property and it doesn’t necessarily need to be sugar maple.  Any type of maple tree can be used for maple syrup production although the season may be sorter and the sugar content lower using soft maples.  Most people starting out will produce for the farm and perhaps some family and friends but production typically outgrows that supply and before your know it you are selling to local neighbours.  The biggest difference between Ontario maple and Quebec maple is the uniqueness of the flavour. Most Ontario producers only sell their own syrup which will have a unique flavour based on their trees, soil conditions, and processing techniques.  Quebec producers all get blended into essentially a canning factory for a uniform taste but their logistics and distribution make it hard to compete from a price stand point for the big shops like Loblaws or Sobeys.  Produce a good quality syrup and you will have the local sales to support your maple business

Over the next three months the Ontario Maple Producers Association will be hosting three different workshops in Eastern Ontario.  On September 24th there will be a beginners course given hands on info on how to get started, on October 22nd we will be offering a more advanced course on syrup quality standards, and on November 19th we are offer a general maple workshop including how to price your syrup.  For information on any of these workshops please contact mapleinfo@easternontaiomaple.com for your reservation and more info.

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Eastern Tent Caterpillar

eastern_tent_caterpillarOMSPA has been apprised that insect infestations are occurring in sugar bushes, primarily from Eastern Tent Caterpillar but there are others as well. Todd Leuty was kind enough to share the following information. We have only heard of issues is the Eastern part of Ontario. If there are other areas please let Todd and OMSPA know. 

From Todd Leuty:

Pest activity can be different for each region.  For sugar bush and woodlot health situations, I work with the Forest Health Specialists with MNRF for the designated region. Vanessa Chaimbrone Vanessa.chaimbrone@ontario.ca is the Forest Health Specialist for the eastern region.  Vanessa works directly with the lead forest entomologist Dr. Taylor Scarr, MNRF (Canadian Forest Service after June 17).  They would be familiar with private aerial applicators that operate in their regions.  For example, in southwest Ontario Zimmer Air Services coordinates many of the insecticide applications for sugar bushes and managed woodlots.    

The forest health specialist usually will know hot spot activity and stages of development of forest pests in their area.  For example, forest tent caterpillar larvae would be in an advanced development stage by now so insecticide treatment would be less effective.  Severe defoliation in a sugar bush is rather alarming when it occurs.  Fortunately, we know that sugar maples have evolved with these native defoliators and can survive most outbreaks, where trees aren’t stressed by other additional factors at the same time. 
Foray and Dipel are Bt insecticides.  Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacterium which produces a toxin, that is commonly used as a biological insecticide.  Bt insecticides are usually approved for use by organic certification, but check with your certifying organization to confirm this.  I’m not sure whether the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC certification) approves the use of Bt insecticide in its sugar bushes, check with them. 

Many overwintering egg masses can be laid during heavy outbreaks, which will set up a sugar bush or deciduous woodlot for heavy defoliation to occur again the following season.  If left alone, the population will eventually decline after two or three seasons due to natural predation and natural disease, which brings the outbreak to an end.  However, sugar production, annual sapwood growth and tap hole healing can be affected.

Where a heavy outbreak is expected to occur again the following year, sugar bush operators can contact an aerial applicator in advance of spring to arrange an insecticide application to be applied shortly after egg-hatch.  The Forest Health Specialists can assist with locating an aerial applicator and providing ideal spray timing.  Each producer can decide the appropriate management decision for their own operation. Some producers prefer to let nature take its course and not apply insecticides for forest tent caterpillar. 

Tapping considerations following defoliation Sugar bushes that are severely defoliated by tent caterpillar will leaf out again after a few weeks, although the new canopy will appear sparse compared to the original canopy.  Maple researchers have found that re-growth of the second canopy will allow the trees to photosynthesize sugar again, however, the effort of growing more leaves will drain the trees of much of the starch energy that was on reserve in the trees.  Syrup producers have found sap sugar concentrations are considerably low following severe defoliation since trees have been depleted of stored starch and sugar. Previously in Grey Bruce counties, sap sugar concentration remained less than 1.5 Brix following severe defoliation by forest tent caterpillar.

Syrup producers can consider reduced tapping (no more than one tap per tree), or no tapping following severe defoliation, to protect the long-term health of their sugar bush.  Reduced tapping may be necessary for two consecutive seasons, or until heavy outbreaks subside.  Any other stress factors, such as summer drought, should also be taken into consideration when determining the health of the trees this coming winter.

There may be some consideration of lowering the vacuum pressure in sap collection tubing along with reduced tapping, but we can consult with maple researchers for this question.  Dr. Abby van den Berg from University of Vermont will be speaking at the maple summer tour on sustainable management practices and this would be a good question for Abby and other maple researchers.

Where an insecticide has been applied at the correct timing and severe defoliation is prevented, normal tapping can resume the next tapping season, assuming the sugar bush has had a normal healthy summer season to replenish starch and sucrose storage.  
Feedback and comments from experienced producers are always welcome.   

Todd

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Maple News update: Ontario

Ontario experienced many of the same weather patterns as the rest of the maple producing belt. Areas close to the great lakes in the far southwest of the province saw early runs with an earlier than normal finish due to the warm spell in mid March affecting flavour somewhat.

The eastern and northern part of Ontario had an exceptional year with steady flows of sap with high sugar percentage. Grades ran from golden to lots of lighter amber with dark and very dark only made at the very end. Even very dark syrup did not have the overly very strong taste normally associated with that grade. As a result dark and very dark are in short supply.

Some producers are sharing that they may not see a production year like this for another 10 years or so. Due to the general coolness ( apart from mid March spell) of the season, flavour is reported as outstanding.

The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association Annual General Meeting and Summer Tour is scheduled for July 14,15,16 in Peterborough Ontario ( Trent University). Go to omspa.ca for details. Everyone welcome as OMSPA celebrates 50 years!

Ray Bonenberg
OMSPA Immediate Past President
IMSI Director for Ontario

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Importance of Focusing on Syrup Quality

Michael Farrell | Reprinted from The Maple News

maple-hydrometerI have been attending the board meetings of the International Maple Syrup Institute for the past several years.  The agendas are always interesting and focus on a wide variety of topics of importance to the maple syrup industry, including many facets of marketing and promotion, misrepresentation of maple syrup in the marketplace, and ensuring product quality. I have been fairly surprised by the amount of discussion related to improving the quality of maple syrup in the marketplace, as I never realized how big and widespread a problem it was and continues to be.  We all know maple syrup is a pure, natural, and (usually) delicious product, but we may not realize the extent to which off-flavors can occur in maple syrup. It is imperative that as we continue to grow the industry, we make concerted efforts to ensure that all of the maple syrup being offered for retail sale is of the highest quality possible and to keep defective syrup out of the hands of all consumers.   The new grading system makes it clear that any defective syrup should be classified as processing grade syrup.  There are many ingredient applications where the off-flavors can be hidden and those are acceptable uses for processing grade syrup.

To give you a sense of the nature of the problem, consider the following. Ten years ago, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers started a program to monitor syrup quality being offered at retail stores throughout Quebec. They bought 100 random samples every year and checked to make sure that the syrup met minimum requirements for color, density, clarity, and flavor. When they first started checking on quality control, 40% of the random samples that they pulled did not meet minimum quality requirements.  Think about it- for every five people that purchased a bottle of pure maple syrup, two wound up with a defective bottle. Some of it was have just been labeled as the wrong grade, or may not have been a high enough density, but some of it was undoubtedly off-flavored. When someone gets a bottle of off-flavored maple syrup, they either (1) eat it anyways because they don’t like to waste, (2) throw it out and purchase a new bottle that hopefully tastes better, or (3) throw it away and no longer purchase pure maple syrup. The Federation has been working diligently on increasing quality and that figure is now down to 15%.  There are two ways to think about that- one is that it is an incredible feat to have reduced the incidence from 40% to 15% in a relatively short time frame. The other is to say any number above 0 is unacceptable, and we need to continue to be vigilant so that nobody purchases maple syrup that doesn’t meet the high standards that we should all hold ourselves to. Remember that people are more likely to relate a negative experience to their friends and family than a positive one, so we must ensure that nobody has a reason to state why they had a negative experience with pure maple.

One of ways the Federation has reduced the incidence of off-flavored syrup has been through a joint agreement of the packers not to put an off-flavored syrup in to retail packages. All of the bulk syrup is graded through the Federation, and if it is off-flavored, the packers have to prove that it is being used for industrial or processing purposes and is not blended in to retail containers. The system is not perfect but it’s on the right track.  Maple producers and packers in all jurisdictions should follow that same guideline when packaging syrup for retail sale.

While skilled people may be able to blend in some off-flavored syrup in to a large batch and not be able to taste it- that is risky business. You can very easily ruin an entire batch of syrup when bottling if you put in too much of the off-flavored syrup. It is important to be able to recognize off-flavors and make sure none of that winds up in a jug of syrup meant for retail sale as table-grade syrup.  The opportunity for blending in off-flavors is certainly enticing for producers who make light-colored, but off flavored syrup at the end of the season. It may look like a Golden or Amber syrup, but it certainly doesn’t taste like a high-quality Golden or Amber syrup.  With the new grading system, the flavor must match the color. If it has a Golden color but a commercial flavor, then it is commercial (or processing grade) syrup and should be graded and sold as such.

With the increased focus on sap processing efficiencies and collecting sap later in to the spring, the amount of off-flavored syrup has risen significantly in recent years. We are collecting sap later in to the spring when sap quality has deteriorated and the sap doesn’t get enough time under high heat to adequately caramelize and develop a strong flavor to overpower off-flavors. Approximately 1/3 of the syrup in reserve at the Federation is off-flavored and we have an oversupply of processing grade syrup in the marketplace (20 million pounds at the Federation warehouses alone).  The amount of processing grade syrup being produced is outpacing the demand for this type of syrup in commercial and industrial applications. That is one of the main reasons the prices for commercial syrup dropped so much last year and will be even lower this year.

The problem with off-flavored or otherwise defective syrup on store shelves is certainly not limited to the experiences described in Quebec above. In fact, this is a problem that we see throughout the world and Quebec likely has one of the lowest rates of defective syrup on store shelves. Many problems are the result of producers failing to properly store, package, and handle syrup.  It is often producers who don’t go to meetings, belong to their local association, or subscribe to publications such as this one.  While the majority of sugarmakers have the skills, knowledge, and desire to only put the highest quality syrup on the marketplace, unfortunately that is not true for everyone.  In Extension, we struggle with trying to transfer knowledge to people who don’t to come to meetings or read various publications. If you know of producers that may benefit from additional training, please try to encourage them to take advantage of different learning opportunities.

Tasting syrup is very important, so we always recommend having someone with a discerning palate taste syrup before it is bottled.  At the New York State Fair, there are usually four people judging samples of pure maple syrup entered in to the competition. While the vast majority of syrups do pass the test on color, density, and clarity, more than half are usually rejected as a result of flavor defects (and all four people agree that there is a flavor defect). At the NAMSC/IMSI meeting a few years ago in New Brunswick, the judges had a hard time finding any samples entered in certain categories that met quality standards.  This happened to be a year when metabolism was a major problem, which was the source of many of the off-flavors. While there are many more examples of these types of events, there is no need to belabor the point.  Maintaining syrup quality is a serious problem and something we all have a responsibility to focus on.  Even if you always make sure that syrup you offer for sale is of the highest quality, it is important to also make sure your fellow sugarmakers follow the same high standards.  When any syrup is being offered for sale that doesn’t meet the standard we expect, it hurts the reputation of the entire maple industry.

The first step towards correcting a problem is admitting you have one. The IMSI has clearly identified that we have a problem with off-flavored and otherwise defective syrup in the marketplace. It is imperative to make sure that whatever syrup we bottle and sell is done so with the highest quality standards in place.  We all have room to improve our skills and gain additional knowledge in the area of maple syrup grading and quality control. I encourage all producers to take advantage of learning opportunities in this arena whenever they are offered.  The IMSI puts on at least one maple grading school every year, usually in conjunction with the annual meeting in October http://extension.umaine.edu/maple-grading-school/  Centre Acer also puts on a similar program throughout the province of Quebec.  The initiative in Ontario as described in this issue is a great example of producers taking the initiative to help inform themselves and other fellow producers on methods to ensure syrup quality.  If you are able to attend, I highly encourage you to do so, and be on the lookout for other similar courses when they are offered in the future.

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Hands-On Maple Syrup Mentorship

Written by Jay Adam | Farms at Work

New and aspiring maple syrup producers now have more options for hands-on training in east central Ontario, thanks to Farms at Work’s brand new Maple Syrup Production Mentorship.

The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association (OMSPA) has identified an opportunity for industry growth, calling for creation of a mentorship program in its 2012 Strategic Plan.  Farms at Work has responded by working with local OMSPA members to develop a hands-on, curriculum-based Mentorship program for six new producers. It will begin in October 2015 and run through May 2016. In its first year, the Maple Syrup Mentorship will be led by long-time producers Marc and Diane Curle, who come from a 150 year sugaring tradition, and have been involved in the maple industry for 45 years themselves. Curle’s Maple Products and Maple Museum, located near Campbellford, utilizes roughly 2,000 maple taps each year, produces value-added products and attracts visitors from around the world.

Forest management will be strongly emphasized during the five-day Mentorship program. Participants (“mentees”) will learn about the positive impact that forest management can have on the health of the sugar bush and their maple businesses. With a background in logging, and nearly 50 years of managing their own large scale maple operation, the Curles have a wealth of information about forest management to offer mentees.

Field days will involve forest walks to visually and verbally introduce participants to tree health, by surveying for signs of stress, disease and other abnormalities. Mentees will also learn about selective harvesting as a means of promoting vigorous maple crown growth, as well as regeneration of maples over other competing species. The Curles will also address factors to consider in road and pipeline layouts within a sugar bush. The Curles’ top priority is always to maintain the health of their forest, knowing that this is the best long-term approach to maximizing the success of their business.

The Mentorship will also cover production, value-added products and equipment – the full range of information required by new entrants.

The FAW Maple Syrup Mentorship is the first hands-on, full-season maple training program of its kind in the province, and is one of four Mentorship Programs run by Farms at Work. For the last three years, FAW has been offering new and aspiring farmers the opportunity to learn with respected farmermentors in the fields of beekeeping, sheep farming, pasture management, and now maple syrup. Each program emphasizes the hands-on production and business skills required to succeed. With groups of between six and eight per program, mentees have ample opportunity for interaction with their mentors and fellow mentees to build lasting relationships within the farming community.

“We are grateful to OMSPA  for their support of the program by providing affiliate memberships for the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association and to CDL Maple Equipment for supplying the 3/16 tubing, tubing machine, & collecting barrels.”

If you are an aspiring maple syrup producer and would like to learn under a farming mentor and become part of the maple community in Ontario, Farms at Work’s Maple Syrup Mentorship may be right for you. For more information, please visit us on the web (farmsatwork.ca/mentorship-programs) or contact our office (705-743-7671 | info@farmsatwork.ca).

 

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A giant maple industry goes to Quebec hands

“Needless to say, we’re excited, we’re happy to be here in Granby and especially love this industry,” said the new president and CEO, Daniel Cousineau.

It bought the company with financial partners, the Champlain Financial Corporation, Fondaction and HDC inc., After six months of negotiations. The amount of the transaction, finalized this week, remains secret since the company is not listed on the stock exchange. In addition to the plant in Granby, the company has a distribution center in British Columbia.

Seeking with the group to invest in agribusiness, Daniel Cousineau has set his sights on the maple transformation. The former president of the St-Hubert was charmed by the maple activity and dynamism in Quebec, but also the nutritional properties of natural stable syrup.

“Maple syrup is part of our morals. Quebec represents 80% of the world production of maple syrup. He is the producer and the largest exporter. This is our natural resource, “noted Mr. Cousineau.

Develop and innovate

The new owners of LB Maple Treat, founded in 1975 by Luc Bergeron, seek an expansion and development of the transformer. The Granby plant, which employs a hundred people, will of course continue to make maple syrup 100% pure.

“It does not change anything from that side, assureM. Cousineau. On the contrary, we will continue to work with the 600 Quebec producers who are completely committed to their sugar bush and provide us a product of very, very high quality. ”

He saw the opportunity to develop the market by buying the syrup from maple even more and export internationally. He also wants the Federation of Maple Syrup Producers increase the quotas to enable this growth.

According to him, there are 7,000 maple syrup producers in Quebec. LB Maple Treat has agreements with about 600 of them to market the sweet syrup and its derivatives.

Create new culinary trends

Maple syrup is an interesting substitute to replace white sugar in recipes of all kinds, he believes. The group wants to leverage the properties of maple syrup to conquer the world, said Scott Jackson, Champlain Financial Corporation, in a statement.

“There are already a lot of derivatives, notes Mr. Cousineau. We will continue to make these products and we will identify, with scholars and people who establish large food trends, such as chefs, porters and niches that would try to adapt that product to international cultures. There are food trends that are different from what is done in Quebec. ”

He emphasizes that there is huge potential for the company since Quebecers consume an average of 600 ml of syrup per year, compared to only 20 to 60 ml per year around the world.

“This is good news for everyone and for Granby, concludes Daniel Cousineau. It is believed that the coming years will require an increase in labor because production will necessarily increase. While Rona left, we brought back [a company between Québec hands]. “

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Ontario Maple Producers Reach Out to 85,000 Consumers

IPM-2015The International Plowing Match & Rural Expo is hosted at a different location in Ontario each year and is the largest outdoor show in Canada. Annual attendance averages 75,000 with the largest approaching 100,000 people. Plowing matches have been part of Ontario’s agricultural history for well over a century and the event highlights rural life and the different rural communities across the Province. These events are huge and comprise of 50 or more different organizing committees, 1200 volunteers, and 1,000 acres of loaned farm land just to make the event work. The 2015 International Plowing Match was hosted by the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry near the town of Finch, Ontario from September 22 to 26, 2015 and the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers were there. The Ontario Maple Producers’ booth was located in the History & Heritage Tent, one of several themed areas hosted at the Rural Expo part of the event.

Members from the Eastern Ontario Local of OMSPA along with some help from the Ottawa Valley Local hosted a 15 x 20 booth for 5 straight days of maple marketing and education that was very well received by the public. With 5 to 7 volunteers lined up each day they tried something a little different by leaving the syrup at home and sampled pure maple sugar exclusively. Consumer response was fantastic. 90% of people visiting the booth had never heard of maple sugar before and even fewer had ever tasted it. Without fail the first question asked was “Where can we buy it?” which was referred to the producers map on the new OntarioMaple.com website.

Bryan Exley, President of the Eastern Local of the Ontario Maple Producers Association, commented “What’s great about sampling the sugar is that not only is it of great interest to consumers but they can’t price point it at the local Walmart or Costco like they can for maple syrup. We are encouraging people to develop a relationship with their local producer, farmers market, or specialty shop for their on-going maple sugar supplies and we expect the syrup sales to follow.” Another local producer that had also volunteered for the event Cheryl Wightman was equally impressed at the public interest in maple sugar. “We sample maple products all the time at farmers markets but I had never thought of sampling sugar. I will be adding this to my market booths.”

In addition to the popular maple sugar sampling there was a tap collection on display with samples dating back to the very early 1800’s all sorted into a time line. Many of the visitors to the display were surprised to see that plastic fittings and tubing first appeared in the 1960’s and had regarded tubing as a fairly recent practice. Many questions were asked about all the different designs of a basic spile with the wooden Aboriginal samples drawing the most interest. The entire collection was on loan to the Ontario Maple Producers Association for the event from Tom Stephenson of the Pembroke, Ontario area.

Conservation and sustainability of maple production was another key area the Ontario producers were promoting by partnering with the local Nation Conservation Authority for the event. Woodlot advisory services and forest management plans were encouraged but a cross cut of a maple tree tapped during the Second World War was the center of attention. This tree had been cut in 2015 as part of farm land clearing and showed healthy growth for 50 years since last being tapped for maple syrup. First tapping shows at about 35 years of growth and spanned World War II – likely as a local sugar supply during rationing. The maple tree was over 100 years old when it was finally cut down and shows an interesting range of tap hole types and sizes with some still filled with cork from 75+ years ago.

Over the 5 day event there were more than 85,000 attendees and it’s estimated 10,000 visited the maple booth. 3,600 maple samples were given out and local producers were getting calls from customers looking to purchase maple sugar even before the event was over. Based on the success of this event the Eastern Local has partnered with the Lanark & District Local on a proposal to attend the Ottawa Food Show next fall to once again sample sugar only to a much different audience. The Ottawa Food show typically attracts younger urban affluent professionals interested in quality and unusual foods – a key market that was identified in a recent market research project conducted by the Ontario Maple Producers Association.

See the photo gallery from the event

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