Sugar Maple Tree - Timber & Maple Syrup
A Sugar Maple tree plantation can generate a profit between $14,500 and $28,500 per acre. Maple Syrup is 60X more valuable than oil.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is also known as hard maple, rock maple, sweet maple and black maple. Hard maple is most prevalent in the Eastern United States, Canada and the Great Lake states, and is the primary source for maple syrup. The heartwood of Sugar Maple is a light reddish-brown to tan in color, while the sapwood is white to creamy white. Human influences have contributed to the decline of Sugar Maple in many regions. Sugar Maple also exhibits a greater susceptibility to pollution than other types of maple. Acid rain and soil acidification are some of the primary contributing factors to Sugar Maple decline, so location is an important factor when considering future plantations. There is a big demand for really clean Maple - wood without knots, insect damage and sugar markings.
Great Lakes Sugar Maples In Rapid Decline
A new study published in a Canadian forestry journal shows the Asian longhorned beetle — an alien invader chewing its way through North American trees over the past decade — has a marked preference for maples. The findings have raised a red flag in New England and southeastern Canada about the potential long-term impact of the pest on the colorful fall foliage that drives tourism throughout the region and on the maple syrup industry that's an economic staple for Quebec and Vermont. The study, conducted by two U.S. scientists and published this week in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, showed how a beetle invasion in Worcester, Massachusetts, had spread from trees on city streets and parks — the typical area of infection — to forested wildlands. And the study's authors, Kevin Dodds of the U.S. Forest Service and Dave Orwig of the National Science Foundation, said the spread into the general forest was particularly worrisome because the trees most favored by the destructive insect were "iconic" maple species, which play a significant role in tourism and syrup production in several northeastern U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Quebec alone produces about 80 per cent of the world's supply of maple syrup. (canada.com) (usda)
Sugar Maple Syrup Production May Be Threatened
Fears of a mass sugar maple extinction surfaced late last month at an international maple syrup producers' conference in Rutland, Vt. Botanists from Vermont and Canada presented environmental evidence to support their dire forecasts and sugar makers confirmed their findings with reports of extensive deaths and serious production losses. "Outlook is very gloomy", according to Mr. Jones, a professor of woodland resources at McGill University, pollution-related diseases have caused 15 percent of Quebec's tapholes to dry up since 1982, accounting for an $87.6 million loss to the maple sugar industry last year alone. On top of that, Mr. Jones cited a 35 percent reduction in the growth rate of all sugar maples, and said that all figures seemed to point to a decline that could end in extinction. The average decline in the United States is reflected in the losses at Bascom Sugar House in Alstead, N.H., which taps New England's largest sugar grove. Typically, Bascom House produces 12,000 of the state's 100,000 gallons of syrup from its 35,000 taps. This year, it tapped more trees than ever, but produced only 7,600 gallons. (nytimes)
It's not just acid rain and pollution that threaten sugar maples in the east, climate change has been disrupting tree-growing cycles for years now. Warm and irregular weather in the heart of sugar maple country is destroying the flavor of maple syrup, and it’s cutting down on yields—two years ago, production dropped dramatically due to a warmer year, and this year, farmers are resorting to using vacuum tubing to suck sap out of the trees in order to access every last drop. While reports warned that the syrup industry would be in trouble, no one really expected it to happen this fast. A projection of events that might occur 20 or 30 years in the future is suddenly a reality now, leaving maple syrup farmers flailing to keep production up. The problem in this and recent years has been a fall in sap production, leading to a drop in syrup production and huge losses for the industry, with the same amount of labor to maintain the trees and work through the extremely short and fragile sugaring season. (ecowatch)
Saving Tree & Syrup
Although sugar maple is indigenous to the Great Lakes area of North America, it will grow in other areas of both Canada and the U.S. Micro-climate areas in the west would be ideal for growing maples. Sugar maple has been grown as an ornamental tree for decades throughout the west; (Seattle. Portland)
Courtesy EPA - the darker the blue the less acid rain, the dark red shows the highest acid rain concentrations in the country
Western Maple Syrup Production
Establishing a maple syrup plantation in the west could prove both environmentally and economically sound. Free from high levels of pollution and damaging insects, a sugar maple plantation should thrive.
More Valuable Than Oil
Maple Syrup production creates revenue early in the life of the plantation. With strong demand for maple syrup—and healthy prices—a commercial sap or syrup operation seems to be a very promising venture for a plantation owner. Proper Sugar Maple plantation management to increase the yield of sweet sap is one technique for improving profit potential. Even greater financial returns are possible with new methods of sap collection and processing (cbc).
The sap runs every year, so as trees grow and increase in size, sap revenue increases year to year as well. Generally maple trees can be tapped starting in year 10 when tree diameter reaches 6 inches. If the desire is to manage a maple plantation primarily for syrup production, then another thinning should be done in year 20 and again in year 30 until you have about 200 trees per acre. Studies have shown that the wider the tree crown, the more sap is produced. In fact, a maple tree with a 30-foot crown will produce 5 times the sap than a tree of the same age with a 10-foot crown. Syrup production costs range from $200 to $800 an acre. (USDA) (UOF) (DNR)
Currently, Maple Syrup sells for around $60 per gallon (sugarbushfarm) or $2,500 per barrel (wholesale). At the time of writing, crude oil was pegged at $40 per barrel, making Maple Syrup 60X more valuable than oil.
How Valuable Is Maple Syrup?
A maple syrup facility in St. Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec was recently the target of a large scale criminal operation—the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist—where thieves stole over 6 million gallons worth $18 million. (bloomberg)
Fact* About forty gallons of sap are need to make one gallon of syrup. (cornell,edu)
Growing Sugar Maple Trees
Growing Sugar Maple trees help tree plantation owners earn profits in less time. Typically, tree farmers must wait several decades before harvesting Sugar Maple trees for timber. Our tall Sugar Maple tree seedlings can cut harvest time in half with the right growing conditions.
Transplant tree caliper diameters are at minimum 1” to ensure transplant survivability. Seedlings range from a height of 10 to 20 feet depending on initial tree seedling age and the number of growing cycles. Seedlings are shipped clear of branches to the site where they are easily transplanted using a PTO driven posthole auger.
Sugar Maple plantation costs average between $500 and $1,000 per acre depending on how many acres are planted per project – the more acres the lower the cost. An average of 800 trees per acre is common. A thinning program should be initiated during year 10 cutting every second tree so the remaining trees will size up. On average, the thinned trees will increase two times diameter compared to a plantation with no thinning.
Note* It is important to transplant seedlings that are at least 3 years old and at least 3 feet tall so they will survive the first and second winters. It is also advisable to use tree shelters or security fencing to protect young maple tree seedlings from grazing deer. Starting a Sugar Maple plantation with tall tree seedlings 10 or 12 feet tall should eliminate the need for shelters and fencing.
For a healthier plantation, it is advisable to intermingle plantings with other tree species such as white ash, basswood and beech. A planting of one alternative tree species for every 20 maples should be adequate.
Invest In A Sugar Maple Tree Plantation
Depending on market conditions, Sugar Maple earns gross revenue between $14,500 and $28,500 per acre in year 30 and double that in year 40. In year 10 thinned trees may be sold and/or converted into high BTU value wood pellets.