As if the emerald ash borer weren't bad enough, now comes the Asian long-horned beetle. Agriculture officials are tracking the tree-killer in southwestern Ohio.
Bill Skvarla knew something was wrong when a mild storm on June 7 snapped thick limbs off three of his maple trees.
Then he took a closer look and saw that the limbs were riddled with large, mysterious holes.
Skvarla took the limbs to a state forester, who rang the alarms.
Now, Skvarla's Harmony Hill Vineyards, near Bethel in Clermont County in southwestern Ohio, is on the front line of a war against an invader called the Asian long-horned beetle.
A bill has passed the state Senate that would help the maple industry.
State Sen. Patricia Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie, said the bill exempts maple producers from strict industrial pollution rules that threaten to derail the growth of the industry, which was valued at $13 million in 2010.
“New York maple farmers are coming off a record year, where renewed interest in this traditional product, new technology and favorable weather, helped producers achieve results not seen since 1947,” said Ritchie, chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee.
“But overly restrictive industrial anti-pollution laws—never intended to apply to farmers—threaten to derail this growth, by burdening producers with unnecessary rules and expenses. My bill would exempt the short-season practices of maple farmers from these industrial pollution rules, and help give farmers an added boost to grow their businesses,” Ritchie said.
The bill would exempt farmers from pollution discharge rules, including requirements for a minimum $600 permit and inspections, that were written to apply to heavy industry, including companies that handle radioactive and hazardous wastes.
But regulators have begun to apply the rules to maple farmers who use soapy water to clean osmosis equipment, newer technology that helps farmers reduce labor and fuel costs to process the watery sap into maple syrup.
Typically, the washing process will use a few tablespoons of soap and between 10 and 20 gallons of water, compared to more than 100 gallons of soapy water used by a homeowner washing her car.
New York maple farmers posted a 64-year record this year, producing 564,000 gallons of maple syrup, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. New York is the nation’s number two maple producer and, together with New England, is responsible for 75 percent of all maple syrup produced in the US
The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee.
Pennsylvania’s 2011 maple syrup production was a record high — estimated at 128,000 gallons, up 137 percent from last year’s production, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The number of taps in Pennsylvania totaled 503,000, compared with 465,000 taps the year before, and yield averaged 0.254 gallons per tap, up from the 0.116 gallons per tap last year.
The 2011 season lasted an average of 32 days, which was longer than the 23-day 2010 season.
But, producers report, sugar content of the sap for 2011 was down from the previous year. On average, approximately 43 gallons of sap were required to produce one gallon of syrup. This compares with 46 gallons in 2010 and 43 gallons in 2009.
Ohio’s 2011 maple syrup production is ranked in sixth place nationally behind Pennsylvania, moving up one spot from last year.
Ohio maple syrup production was 125,000 gallons in 2011, a increase in production of 60,000 gallons from 2010. The number of taps increased from 385,000 taps in 2010 to 405,000 taps in 2011.
The 2011 yield was 0.309 gallons per tap, an 83 percent increase from last year and the highest yield per tap since this statistic was first measured in 2001.
Maple syrup collection started on Feb. 2, and the 2011 season lasted an average of 31 days, up 13 days from last year.
The 2011 United States maple syrup production totaled 2.79 million gallons, up 43 percent from the revised 2010 total. The number of taps is estimated at 9.58 million, 3 percent above the 2010 revised total of 9.26 million.
Yield per tap is estimated to be 0.292 gallons, up 38 percent from the previous season’s revised yield.
Vermont led all states in production while production in New York rebounded from last year’s cold affected season.
On average, approximately 43 gallons of sap were required to produce one gallon of syrup. This compares with 46 gallons in 2010 and 43 gallons in 2009.
The 2010 United States price per gallon was $37.50, down $0.40 from the revised 2009 price of $37.90. The United States value of production, at $73.6 million for 2010, was down 19 percent from the revised previous season.
For the Corse Farm’s maple syrup production, 2011 was the sweetest year in nearly a century of sugaring.
The Whitingham farm surpassed its production totals with 4,881 gallons this season due in part to a cool February and March with no hot spells and a new sap collecting method. The largest production yield prior to 2011 was 3,409 the previous winter.
"This was our biggest year. We’ve tried for a long time to reach 4,000 [gallons], so to reach 4,800 was tremendous," said owner Roy Corse, who has one of southern Vermont’s most extensive sugaring operations with more than 10,000 taps.
The Corses use a reverse osmosis system through a complex tubing network which removes about 75 percent of the water from sap even before the boiling. During a maple tour in early April, they were producing up to 60 gallons an hour with the new Vermont-made Leader Evaporator with four pans and a system of external piping that Corse designed himself.
The gargantuan syrup totals from the Corse farm and others around the county helped Vermont remain the leading producer of liquid gold, a title it has kept since 1976. The Green Mountain State reached 1.14 million gallons of syrup, nearly double the amount of runner-up New York. Vermont surpassed 1 million gallons for the first time since the 1940s, yielding a 28 percent increase from 2010.
In total, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the 2.79 million gallons
One of Brattleboro’s oldest businesses teamed up with one of its newest to create a world-record breaking maple-yogurt smoothie at the Strolling of the Heifers’ Live Green Expo on June 4.
Yogurt and milk for the smoothie came from Brattleboro’s brand-new yogurt producer, Commonwealth Dairy. It was sweetened with Vermont maple syrup from seventh-generation local producer Coombs Family Farms. It also contained apples and cider from local sources.
Q: When a recipe calls for sugar, can I substitute artificial sweeteners?
A: Sugar helps make baked goodies puffy, golden brown and moist, but plain granulated sugar isn't your only option. Whether looking to cut calories, use less processed ingredients or simply change up the flavor, here are some options.
Back when I was a kid, soda was a treat.
My great-grandpa would take me on walks to do errands, and one of my favourite pit stops was the local post office. In the summer, we'd sit down and get a treat, like a Popsicle or an ice cream. Once in a while we'd share a Coke in one of those long glass bottles they used to come in.
Those were the days.
But nowadays, our kids are drinking lots of soda -- and it's killing their teeth.
I read about a recent report by the Canadian Pediatric Society that says over 90 per cent of kids in aboriginal communities have cavities in their baby teeth. We're not talking little cavities, but bad decay where there are rotten roots of teeth left in their mouths.
Our little ones are suffering if their teeth are in such rough shape.
Just because they are baby teeth doesn't mean they don't matter. Kids with bad cavities are irritable, have trouble sleeping, can't eat right, and it can even affect their growth. Bad cavities can also create abscesses.
Part of the reason kids have bad cavities is because of poor nutrition, and drinks like soda play a big role. To me, it's sad to see a baby sucking on a bottle full of Pepsi, and I've seen it all too often.
Think about it. When you give a baby soda, you are bathing your baby's delicate little teeth in sugar. Cola drinks aren't good for babies and neither is Kool-Aid, nor any other kind of sugary juice crystals.
Traditionally, aboriginal people didn't use cane sugar, but we did eat maple sugar -- made from maple syrup. Yes, maple-syrup production is a purely aboriginal invention. It was labour-intensive to make, so it was likely quite a luxury.