The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball today joined the Delaware Academy FFA in Delhi, Delaware County for the first maple tapping of the season to promote New York’s maple industry and encourage participation in Maple Weekends across the State. Maple Weekends events and activities take place March 21-22 and 28-29, 2020, and special events and promotions continue throughout the month of March.
Commissioner Ball said, “Maple season is finally underway, and the sap is flowing in many parts of the State. This is a perfect time to visit a local NYS Grown & Certified maple producer, find out more about the syrup-making process and enjoy some of the finest sweet treats available. Our maple industry not only ranks as second in the nation in production, but it’s also a tremendous contributor to our local communities and economies. I encourage everyone to support our maple businesses and participate in Maple Weekends.”
Students at Delaware Academy FFA welcomed the Commissioner and held a ceremonial maple tapping event before touring the school’s sugarhouse. The Delaware Academy FFA Maple Producers was established in 2003 by a group of dedicated FFA members and community members and has been a member of the New York State Maple Producers since 2018.
Delaware Academy Central School District FFA Advisor and CTE Agriculture/Technology Teacher Tina Miner James said, “The Delaware Academy FFA Maple Producers has grown its program to include 1,400 taps in our sugarbush located on the village property behind the school and at our members’ homes. We have invested in our operation with a new evaporator, stainless steel tanks and machines to make cream and candy. Our maple program is fortunate to have the help of local producers and distributors who assist us in acquiring supplies and equipment. Our success is attributed to the countless hours beyond the school day that our members and supporters dedicate to our program each year.”
New York State ranks second in the nation for maple production, producing 820,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2019 that marked a 75-year record. New York is also home to the largest resource of tappable maple trees within the United States and more than 2,000 maple sugar makers. The Department supports the maple industry through the New York State Budget—which includes funding for promotion and educational programs—as well as through investments in research projects, such as Cornell University’s Maple Program’s Arnot Teaching Forest, and through its NYS Grown & Certified marketing program.
Throughout the month of March, maple farms across the state will open their doors to the public to offer tours and pancake breakfasts, sell maple products and demonstrate the syrup-making process, which includes the traditional system of hanging buckets on trees or more modern methods of production using vacuum systems to increase the yield of sap per tree. Maple Weekends will take place at more than 180 maple farms and museums across the State. Over 400,000 visitors are expected to participate in Maple Weekends activities, boosting agri-tourism across the state. A searchable list of Maple Weekend events is available here.
Over the next few weeks, Commissioner Ball will also visit several maple farms, including Battlehill Maple—a NYS Grown & Certified producer located in Fort Ann, to celebrate the success of the maple industry in New York.
More than 70 maple producers are now participating in the New York State Grown & Certified program, which promotes New York's agricultural producers and growers who adhere to food safety and environmental sustainability standards. A current list of maple producers who are a part of the New York State Grown & Certified program and are hosting maple events can be found here.
In addition, the State's Welcome Center Taste NY Markets will highlight maple throughout the month of March. Markets will hold special promotions, such as Maple Madness, a fun and interactive bracket and offer maple product tastings and share information about regional maple events.
New York State Maple Weekend coordinator Keith Schiebel said, “More than 180 maple producers statewide are ready to entertain, educate and host your maple experience. Maple Weekend explores one of nature’s sweetest crops — maple syrup — and provides a unique opportunity the whole family can enjoy. For maple events near you, visit mapleweekend.nysmaple.com.”
Executive Director of the New York State Maple Producers Association Helen Thomas said, "March is the favorite month of NY maple producers. Each day our members wish for favorable weather as they check their maple woods to see how the sap is flowing. The last two weekends in March they open their sugaring operations to the public to demonstrate the process of making maple products from tree to table. Maple producers across New York take great pride producing the finest maple products in the world.”
Dave Campbell, President of Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association, said, “The members of the Upper Hudson Maple Producers Association are excited that this season is off to a great start. They have lots of maple products for people to enjoy when they come out to visit a local farm. And we always appreciate the support from Commissioner Ball of the maple industry and his continued commitment to New York's many sectors of agriculture.”
Greg Lapan and Janet Oliver, Co-owners of Battlehill Maple, said, "We are honored to host Commissioner Ball as we represent the Association and the maple industry for this tapping ceremony. We are also pleased to represent other maple producers who are part of the New York State Grown & Certified program."