March 23, 2010

Contact: Michael Farrell, NNY Maple Specialist, 518-523-9337

NNY Maple Producers Searching for Trees, Collaborating with Landowners; New Online Evaluation Tool Helps Maple Tree Owners Evaluate Best Use

Lake Placid, NY -- Northern NY Maple Specialist Mike Farrell says his goal with the “Get Involved with Maple” campaign is to enhance the maple-producing capacity of New York’s six northernmost counties to achieve the full, environmentally-friendly economic potential of the region as a syrup maker. That potential, in time, could be more than $9 million per year.

Farrell, who is director of the Cornell University Uihlein Maple Forest & Extension Center at Lake Placid, has co-written “Increasing NNY Maple Production through Effective Producer/Landowner Collaborations” with Cornell Professor Brian F. Chabot.

The report was made possible by funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program that has also supported research and demonstration projects to help Northern New York’s maple producers improve the quality and productivity of their sugar maple forests.

“Maple producers are interested to expand their production in order to fill the growing markets and there is a vast untapped resource of untapped trees in Northern New York. Most producers have tapped all of the trees they own,” Farrell says.

Farrell surveyed Northern New York landowners to identify opportunities for producers to lease trees, to buy sap from landowners who tap their own trees and for landowners to sell sap or process the sap from their trees into syrup. That syrup could be sold bulk to bottlers or processors or the landowners could make value-added products themselves.

“Leasing and cooperative business arrangements are often the most practical and economical solution. Existing maple producers already have made the capital investment in facilities and equipment needed to produce high-quality syrup in a cost-effective manner,” Farrell says. “An advantage for landowners is the opportunity to receive agricultural land value assessment and the related tax break.”

Landowners Large & Small Collaborating with Regional Maple Producers
Farrell reports that Rayonier, a Jacksonville, FL, company that sustainably manages timber and produces specialty cellulose fibers, is exploring partnerships to lease some of its land in New York’s Adirondacks region to regional maple producers.

Jon Spink, Rayonier’s northeast resource unit leader, says, “We see promising opportunities to work with regional producers to make good use of the maple trees on Rayonier land in Northern New York. To that end, we are opening discussions with potential maple production partners.”

Farrell says a number of smaller landowners and maple producers elsewhere in the region have reached partnership agreements.

New Online Evaluation Tool Helps Maple Tree Owners Evaluate Best Use
Farrell is continuing his “Get Involved with Maple” campaign in NNY and, with funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute, is expanding the effort statewide. He has also developed a Net Present Value calculator tool that allows landowners to evaluate the option to lease trees for syrup production vs. managing their trees for sawtimber production. This tool is found online at http://www.nnyagdev.org/_maple.htm.

The results of Farrell’s survey of maple producers and landowners about their interest in getting involved with maple production is online in the Maple section of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at http://www.nnyagdev.org/_maple.htm, see Research Reports: Increasing NNY Maple Production through Effective Producer-Landowner Collaboration (2008-2009).

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program receives funding from the New York State Legislature through the leadership of Senate and Assembly Agriculture Committee Chairs Darrel J. Aubertine and William Magee respectively and with the long-term support of Senator Elizabeth “Betty” Little.

Maple Weekend: March 27-28
The public can visit sugarhouses throughout the Northern NY region this weekend: March 27-28 as part of the statewide Maple Weekend Open House. For a listing of participating producers, visit www.mapleweekend.com.  #