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ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Did you know Ohio State makes maple syrup?!
In a 19-acre woods on the Ohio State Mansfield campus, researchers, Extension specialists, instructors, and others are collecting sap from a variety of maple trees in a working sugarbush and making syrup. And it all started with students!
Just what is a working sugarbush, you ask? It’s a grouping of sugar maple trees, and other members of the maple tree family (like red maple and silver maple), being tapped for a product – in this case, syrup.
GET THE FACTS!
Non-timber forest products give landowners a potential year-after-year income for a little bit of time and equipment investment. You can harvest some timber and collect sap, but for a woodland owner who doesn’t want to harvest timber at all, but could still use some extra income from the woods, sap collection and maple syrup can be just the ticket – or topping on your pancakes!
We have several free fact sheets available on Ohioline to learn more about maple syrup itself, as well as how to produce, store and serve maple syrup. Check these out...
- A Consumer's Guide to Pure Maple Syrup
- Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Maple Syrup
- Hobby Maple Syrup Production
Did you also know that maple syrup adds about $5 million to Ohio's economy each year? Check out more about the history of maple syrup production in the United States and Ohio online at agnr.osu.edu/specialty-crop-business/maple-syrup. You can also learn about the native maple species in North America, the syrup industry's impact on the economy, and find additional resources.
The North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual, 3rd Ed. is also a very useful resource. Since 1958, this manual has served as a basic reference for the production of pure maple products. Per the manual publishers, it ""provides up-to-date, science-based information and recommendations relating to all aspects of the industry..." for beginners and experts alike.
See how the Ohio State sugarbush got started, and visit woodlandstewards.osu.edu/maple for a little history lesson!
But this unique activity isn't just for us! YOU and Mother Nature can be a great team too; and the process can be as simple or as complex as you want.
Simple: Identify a maple tree or two in your backyard. Collect sap with a bucket. Boil the sap into syrup on your kitchen stove, in a turkey fryer, or outdoor camping stove. Bottle and label the syrup. Give your friends a taste test!
A little more involved: Rig the maple trees on several acres in your woods with vacuum-assisted tubing. Set up monitors throughout the woods to track the tubing condition and any potential issues with the equipment. You can even monitor the set-up line by line and use an app on your phone to keep track of things. The system collects the sap regularly from multiple trees into one storage location, where it can then be removed and boiled into syrup, then bottled.
Either way you choose to make it, say our experts, the syrup product will be the same.
If you don't have maple trees to tap or want to make your own syrup, you are welcome to buy some of ours! Syrup produced by the Ohio Woodland Stewards program can be purchased online at woodlandstewards.osu.edu/maple/maple-syrup-orders.
CONNECT WITH OUR EXPERTS!
Several folks in the Ohio State School of Environment and Natural Resources work with the sugarbush on the Mansfield campus, teach and learn from our students, and help with producing our very own maple syrup to sell. They also post the latest insights and updates on their blog at u.osu.edu/ohiomaple/category/maple-syrup-in-ohio.
Kathy Smith is the forestry program director in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, housed in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State.
Gabe Karns is a visiting assistant professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources.
OSU Extension also has some folks who are experts in maple syrup production and products, and who connect regularly with the Ohio Maple Producers Association as well.
Gary Graham is an OSU Extension agriculture and natural resources educator who specializes in maple tree products. In 2022, Gary was inducted into the Maple Syrup Hall of Fame, when he was recognized by the International Maple Syrup Hall of Fame for his decades dedicated to maple syrup production in North America. Learn more in this online article.
Les Ober is an OSU Extension agriculture and natural resources educator who specializes in maple syrup production.