Training in Sustainable Systems Approach to Production, Harvesting, Processing and Marketing of Value Added Syrup Crops in MS and Surrounding States
1.) Producers, educators and researchers will become knowledgeable in specific components of a systems approach to sustainable cultural, harvesting, processing and marketing practices of syrup crops.
2.) Producers, educators, and researchers will learn to identify sustainable practices in production, harvesting, juice extraction, processing and marketing of syrup crops and value added products that will enhance a successful system approach.
3.) Producers, educators and researchers will become aware of potential value added products from syrup crops.
Activities to date
This program and project has continued to explode with enthusiasm. A “Mill on Wheels” consisting of a power mill on one trailer and a “Patton’s Modified Stubb’s Pan” on a wood?fired furnace on another trailer is used to take the program to the PEOPLE. This equipment is transported to county/state events that offer education and marketing opportunities for syrup producers. Sweet Sorghum and Sugarcane Syrup production, processing and marketing has been demonstrated throughout Mississippi in 1999 and extended to Arkansas 2000. In addition, the “Mill on Wheel’s” demonstrated the project’s capability at a “Demonstration Farmer’s Market” in Chicago, IL, Labor Day weekend 1999..Over 1,288,560 people attended fairs, festivals field days and county demonstrations were Syrup Harvesting, Processing and Marketing Demonstrations/Training were presented in 1999 and 2000. One hundred (112) small farmers participated in cultural practices field demonstrations, provided cane for Syrup Processing & Marketing Demonstrations and /or received training in processing syrup.
One hundred seventy five(175) Agricultural Agents, Researchers and Professionals were trained in Sustainable Syrup Crops production, harvesting processing and marketing methods. Eighty five(85) beginning and or seasoned processors were trained in improved syrup processing methods utilizing the “Mill on Wheels” equipment. The dollar impact to participants has been realized by over $62,951 of syrup processed during demonstrations and of this amount, participants marketed over $20,707 in attractive plastic containers during the marking demonstrations. Syrup crop acres in the 14 county area of immediate program influence in Mississippi has increased from 62 acres in 1997 to an excess of 108 acres in 2000 considering the extreme drought. The syrup crop influenced by the project during 1999 & 2000 is valued at $1,067,203. And additional acreage in the remainder of the state has increased, evidenced by increased contacts and request for information. This project has increase the price of syrup in the entire state from $8.00 for two half gallons to $30 for four quarts. This is due to marketing demonstrations rapidly changing containers from half gallon metal cans to pint & quart of attractive plastic containers. Arkansas and Mississippi farmers received over $9 per quart for sweet sorghum syrup in 2000.
In 2000 a smaller processing unit is near completion and will be used just for educational events in order to ease the scheduling demands on the larger unit. Two harvesters have been repaired and demonstrated to save labor during harvest and are being evaluated for future recommendation. The project added several activities in Arkansas in 2000 and more activities will be added to the project in 2001 in at least one county in both Louisiana and Alabama. And a larger audience of Processors and Professionals will be trained. Educational video have been collected and shown to large crowds at demonstration events, festivals and fairs.
Three additional educational workshops are scheduled for 2001 in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana to train new and existing syrup producers in sustainable methods of production, harvesting, processing and marketing.