Table of Contents
At present, about 2600 maple producers set out 1,300,000 taps in Ontario. The highest producing areas are Waterloo-Wellington in Southern Ontario and Lanark County in Eastern Ontario. Production grew by about 30 percent between 1975 and 2008 and has been relatively steady with a production of about 1,000,000 litres of syrup per year since then. Annual production has varied with the seasonal weather and other factors. While there is room for growth of markets for maple syrup, growth prospects will be tempered by the level of capital investment required to increase tapping at existing farms, establish new operations, survive variable profitability, benefit from competing markets in the maple woodlot resource (i.e. timber production) and other factors.
It is difficult to project how supply and demand will change over the next few years. The 2009 maple production season was one of the best syrup production seasons in five years in almost all maple-producing regions, with return prices to producers the best the maple industry has ever experienced. While demand for syrup is expected to increase in domestic and export markets over the next few years, this demand may be largely accommodated by existing production. Emphasis is expected to be on satisfying markets for pre-pac.
A primary concern for the entire North American maple industry is the invasive Asian Long-horned Beetle. The outbreak of this pest in the Vaughan region north of Toronto is believed to be eliminated. Monitoring continues to ensure it has been eradicated. A new infestation has appeared in Worcester Massachusetts in 2008 and intensive efforts are underway to hopefully eradicate Asian Long-horned beetle from this new site. It is believed that this one invasive insect pest could potentially lay waste to the maple syrup and maple wood product industries as we know them, if it were to escape into wild and urban forests.
Canada and the United States are the only two maple syrup producing countries in the world. In 2006, worldwide production of maple syrup was estimated at 40,990 metric tonnes (MT), with Canada accounting for 82% of that production, and the United States the remainder. Canada is therefore the largest maple syrup producer with production of 33,745 MT in 2006, valued at $177.9 million (Canadian), while the United States produced 7,245 MT, valued at $45.3 million (U.S) maple syrup and value-added maple products.
The Canadian maple syrup producing provinces are Quebec, with 91.1%
of domestic production in 2006, followed by New Brunswick (4.5%),
Ontario (3.9%), and Nova Scotia (0.5%). There is also maple production
on Prince Edward Island, though in small volumes.
Ontario is the third largest maple producing province with production
of 1,310 MT, valued at $11.2 million and concentrated in the southwest
region areas, mainly in Waterloo County. Lanark County in eastern
Ontario is the second major area of production in the province (Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada). For detailed information on maple syrup production
in Canada and the United States, see the Agriculture and Agri-Food
website and search maple syrup production.
The effect of the 1998 ice storm on the maple industry in eastern
Ontario and western Quebec is still being monitored after 10 years
of recovery. The affected sugar bushes are showing good signs of
recovery but the condition of severely damaged stands is still quite
fragile. In the years since the storm, there has been noticeable
mortality in some sugar bushes, especially in the older trees. Recovery
of these sugar bushes will take many more years. Favourable growing
conditions and minimal negative impacts from other stress factors
such as insect defoliation, has been conducive to recovery.
The main organization for maple syrup producers in Ontario is the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA). This organization has about 330 members and these members operate about two-thirds of the taps placed in sugar bushes annually in Ontario. OMSPA supports many initiatives of value to maple producers in Ontario. These include a voluntary quality assurance program which is currently undergoing re-organization, public and producer awareness and education functions and support for applied research and marketing initiatives. OMAFRA crop specialists and inspection staff, conservation authorities and forestry specialists of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) work closely with OMSPA and its various committees to support many initiatives of value to the industry.
Production of maple products that are pure and safe for the consumer is critical to the maintenance of a thriving industry in Ontario. The provincial government and federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency representatives work closely with OMSPA to monitor the purity and safety of maple syrup. The previous Maple Seal of Quality program is currently undergoing reorganisation and is expected to be operational on a voluntary basis in 2010, administered by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association.
A growing number of maple producers are recognizing the importance
of competitive pricing of their product and the application of creative
marketing strategies. This can be challenging and requires a careful
allocation of time and financial resources between the production
and marketing aspects of the maple business.
Most maple products produced in Ontario are sold at the farm gate,
in retail facilities or at farmers markets. A limited number of
producers are involved in the export market since Ontario is a net
importer of maple products.
There is a growing interest in the production of value-added products
from maple syrup. These include maple wine and beers, maple butter,
maple candy, and cooking sauces.
Public awareness and education efforts are critical to informing
consumers of maple products who will continue to enjoy the special
attributes of maple syrup and other maple products. OMSPA, OMAFRA,
MNR, the University of Guelph, Conservation Authorities, local Stewardship
Councils and many individual producers contribute to this effort.
OMSPA maintains an informative maple exhibit at the Royal Winter
Fair in Toronto and often places exhibits at local fairs throughout
OMSPA, OMAFRA and MNR work together in the development of information
days for maple producers. These information days usually take the
form of indoor meetings and field days. In January and February
of each year, OMSPA hosts a network of information days across Ontario
and in July hosts a summer conference and tour in some area of the
The purpose of these meetings is to transfer research results and
share practical innovations and experience.
Other maple research is ongoing at Centre Acer in Quebec, Proctor
Research Centre in Vermont, and the Uihlein Sugar Maple Research
Station in New York State.
In Ontario, maple orchards are defined as intensively managed plantations
of sugar maple and/or black maple established with the primary objective
of producing high volumes of maple sap for syrup production. The
definition also encompasses row or line plantings along fields and
road corridors. At present, the number of maple orchards in Ontario
is small and most orchards are less than 25 years of age. While
the trees in most orchards are not yet large enough to tap, the
young orchards demonstrate the potential for planting maple in the
future and have an important educational value. Several of the earliest
orchard plantings have reached a size that permits tapping, approximately
25 cm diameter at chest height.
Maple orchards are normally established on lands that have been
removed from other forms of agricultural production and have a high
productive capability for tree growth. In order to be successful,
orchard growers must make a commitment to intensively management
the orchard, during a 25 to 30 year establishment period after planting,
and annually once sap production has begun.
Sugar maple and /or black maple seedlings suitable for orchard
establishment can be obtained from a number of private nurseries
in Ontario. A good alternative is to obtain vigorously growing maple
saplings from a managed local sugar bush or other maple woodlot.
It is better to plant maple trees of local origin so as to ensure
that they are well suited to the local climate and to maintain the
genetic resources of Ontario forests.
Over the past few years, OMAFRA in cooperation with the University
of Guelph, has attempted to produce rooted maple scions from branch
cuttings collected from maple trees in the spring of the year. While
good success was achieved with rooting the cuttings, over-wintering
losses were almost complete. There was no sign of winter injury
caused mortality of the cuttings. It is believed that the cuttings
may not have had enough starch reserves to survive the dormant period.
Possible remedies include a shorter cold period, perhaps bringing
the cuttings out of cold storage in late December into a greenhouse
facility to allow earlier growth. Another remedy would be to apply
a growth hormone to initiate new shoot and leaf growth during the
initial rooting period before the first winter dormancy to enable
the delicate cuttings to store more food reserves.
The Maple Production Report is produced by OMAFRA's agroforestry specialists and has been available for ten years. It is produced weekly through the late winter and early spring. It is available as a toll-free phone service (formerly known as Agriphone) by calling 1-888-290-4441 and is posted on the OMAFRA website at www.ontario.ca (see Crop and Pest Updates). Subscribers to the online version are notified by e-mail when a new report is available.
Messaging focuses on providing an update on the status of production in the different parts of the province, providing weekly predictions on weather that is conducive to sap flow and providing useful tips for successful production of maple syrup. Technical information related to sugar bush management and maple production is often included in the message.
Maple producers find the weekly synopsis of provincial sap flows
as well as sap and syrup quality experiences to be useful. They
also find sap flow predictions, based on five-day forecasts to be
very helpful. It can be challenging to predict sap flow patterns
on a provincial or regional basis. The Ontario Maple Production
Report is also accessed by media and maple producers of other provinces
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Local: (519) 826-4047