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January 20, 2013

Farm briefs: Jan. 20, 2013

Tools to match maple producers, landowners

LAKE PLACID — As part of a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded outreach program, Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell has developed tools to encourage producers and landowners to help Northern New York realize its true maple-industry potential.

“For New York State and the Northern Forest Region to increase its production of maple syrup, it is imperative that additional landowners become engaged in the industry,” said Farrell, director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Maple Research Forest at Lake Placid.

Farrell has documented the potential for growth in the northern forest area of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He says that in an average year, more than 75 percent of the total U.S. syrup production comes from those four states, yet of the 640 million potential taps, only 6.3 million were being used for syrup production in 2009, a utilization rate of less than one percent.

The number of maple taps in the Northern New York region increased by 26 percent from 2005 to 2010, but there is still a lot of room to grow. Farrell is encouraging landowners to consider leasing their maple trees or harvesting sap from those trees to sell to maple producers looking for the raw material from which to make syrup or confections.

For woodlot owners wondering if they should lease their maple trees for maple production rather than sell them for lumber, Farrell developed a Net Present Value Analyses tool that compares a single maple tree’s potential for annual leasing income to the long-term return for timber production.

According to Farrell, “Several large landowners have already used this tool to determine that they would earn greater revenues by leasing their land for sugaring than harvesting the maples for timber production. With the added benefit of qualifying for agricultural assessment by leasing a sugarbush to a maple producer, many landowners are discovering that they can reduce their property-tax burden while generating income in the process.”

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