- Miscellaneous: syrup
- Crop Production: agroforestry, forestry
- Education and Training: extension, workshop
- Pest Management: sanitation
- Production Systems: general crop production
Annual sap yields in most maple operations are reduced by 10-25% annually due to microbial contamination of the tubing collection system, and these yield losses result in significant reductions in net profits. To counteract these yield losses and increase profits, maple producers employ two general types of sanitation strategies: cleaning the tubing system after each production season, or annual replacement of various parts of the tubing and spout system.
Replacement strategies, such as replacing sap droplines or spouts, have been demonstrated through research to be effective at increasing sap yields, and can result in net profit increases of $1-3 per tap. Cleaning strategies, such as rinsing the system with water or food-grade sanitizers, have not been thoroughly investigated, and their effectiveness, if any, in bolstering sap yields and net profits are unknown. Despite this, a 2011 survey indicates that 89% of the over 4,000 producers who tap 7.8 million trees in New England and New York annually clean their tubing systems. If the cleaning strategy employed is ineffective and results in a lower net profit increase than a replacement strategy alternative, then the producer is not using a strategy that results in the best possible outcome (the largest increase in annual profits). Thus, it is possible that the majority of maple producers in NE/NY could significantly increase their net profits, by at least $1-3 per tap annually, by adopting a more beneficial sanitation strategy.
This project will conduct the necessary research to determine the increase in sap yields and net profit per tap of various cleaning and replacement strategies used to combat sap yield losses due to microbial contamination. It will also engage NE/NY maple producers with operations of all sizes in an education program about the relative profitability of the available sanitation strategies to mitigate these yield losses, and comprehensive general information about best practices to maximize sap yields. With this information, producers will be able to increase their sap yields and net profits by selecting a sanitation strategy that results in a better outcome than the one they currently use, and also by employing other known best practices for maximizing sap yields. As a result, on a total of 850,000 tapped trees, 450 maple producers will adopt a more beneficial practice to combat sap yield losses from microbial contamination, resulting in an increase in annual net profits of $1 to $3 per tap.
Performance targets from proposal:
On a total of 850,000 tapped trees, 450 maple producers adopt a more beneficial practice to combat sap yield losses from microbial contamination, resulting in an increase in annual net profits of $1 to $3 per tap.