Sycamore Syrup: Generating Farm Income and Protecting Riparian Zones in West Virginia

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $29,996.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Future Generations University
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Dr. Michael Rechlin
Future Generations University


  • Miscellaneous: syrup


  • Crop Production: forest farming, other
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, value added

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will develop the fundamental knowledge necessary for farmers, and other riparian landowners, to tap sycamore trees for the production of sycamore syrup. The University will partner with three established West Virginia maple producers, as well as a syrup producer in western Pennsylvania, who have access to riparian sycamore stands to field test research findings from the Future Generations University sycamore field site. These farmers will then become locus points for the extension of knowledge and techniques developed to a broader community of potential sycamore syrup producers. The result will be the creation of an additional tree syrup industry, the enhancement of farm incomes during the off season, and the environmental benefits of enhanced riparian zone protection.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. This project seeks to discover the proper time to tap American Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis) trees to maximize the volume and sweetness of the sap collected. This will allow farmers to increase yield and quality of this specialty crop and thereby increase potential sales.


    1. This project seeks to determine the optimal level of vacuum that should be applied to sap lines in order to maximize sap flow. Answering this question will allow farmers to develop superior sap collection strategies that improve the reliability of this crop.


    1. This project will test the efficacy of sap collection spouts specifically designed for walnut trees in a previous NR SARE project (ONE19-347) on Sycamore sap collection. It will be designed to reduce sap leakage and increase yield, thus increasing the amount of syrup farmers can process and sell from their sycamore tapping operations.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.