Agriculture_Markets
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 
   
Jola Szubielski, Lisa Koumjian 518-457-0752

March 10, 2017

State Agriculture Commissioner Encourages New Yorkers to Enjoy Maple Weekends This Month

168 Maple Farms Open Statewide to Show How Tree Sap Becomes Delicious Syrup

Over 400,000 Visitors Expected to Participate in Maple Weekends

Expansion of Existing Exemption Will Allow Maple Producers to Make and Sell Bourbon-Aged Maple Syrup

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today encouraged New Yorkers to take part in upcoming events marking the 22nd annual Maple Weekends.  This year, Maple Weekends take place March 18-19 and March 25-26 at 168 maple farms in 45 upstate counties. Over 400,000 visitors are expected to participate in Maple Weekends activities. New York’s maple producers rank second in the nation in the production of syrup, provide a boost to the agricultural economy and drive tourism across the State.

A searchable list of Maple Weekend events is at www.MapleWeekend.com. Most events will be held on Maple Weekends, but events will be taking place throughout the month.

The maple industry is a major contributor to the State’s agritourism economy. New York State ranks second in the country in maple syrup production, and had a record season in 2016 with the production of more than 700,000 gallons of maple syrup.  This was an increase of 18 percent and broke the previous year’s 70-year production record by over 100,000 gallons, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Maple Weekends and Events

Starting this month, maple farms across the State will open their doors to the public to offer tours and pancake breakfasts, sell delicious maple products and demonstrate the syrup-making process.  An unusual warm spell this winter has given farmers an early start on sap production.

Many producers have moved away from the traditional system of hanging buckets on trees in favor of modern methods of production using vacuum systems to increase the yield of sap per tree. Sap is then transported to the evaporators that reduce raw sap to syrup.  It can take 40 gallons of sap or more to make one gallon of pure syrup.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball will attend Maple Weekend celebrations on several farms across the State:

  • Friday, March 10 – 12 p.m. at Toad Hill Maple Farm, 139 Charles Old Road, Thurman (Warren County)
  • Saturday, March 25 – 11 a.m. at Yancey’s Sugarbush, 7981 Long Pond Road, Croghan (Lewis County)
  • Sunday, March 26 – 11 a.m.  at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School, 5275 State Route 31, Verona (Oneida County)

New York State Support of the Maple Industry

New York State continues to expand its support and promotion of the maple industry.  Producers of maple syrup are already exempt from the State’s food processing license.   The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets will now expand the exemption in the coming weeks, allowing producers of bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup to also make and sell their product. 

This past fall, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Commissioner Ball participated in the Fall Maple Harvest and Tasting Tour in the North Country to spotlight the State's maple producers and promote their products.  A special Maple Showcase and honorary Maple Trail were created in the North Country to extend the promotion of the industry year-round, beyond the traditional maple season in the spring.

Governor Cuomo’s Taste NY program has also proudly partnered with many New York State maple producers, offering their products at Taste NY stores, cafés and sampling events throughout the State since 2013. They are also featured at Taste NY sampling events annually, and at the popular Maple Producers booth in the Horticulture Building at the Great New York State Fair, where maple popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy are among the many products available.  The New York State Maple Producers Association's Maple Center celebrated its most successful year at the New York State Fair in 2016 with record-breaking sales. Sales at the Maple Center increased by 15 percent from the previous year.

In addition, New York State’s Division of Tourism promotes maple sugaring and Maple Weekends across its many platforms, including the I LOVE NEW YORK social media channels and website at https://www.iloveny.com/things-to-do/nature/maple-sugaring/. Maple Weekends and New York’s sugar houses also have been featured in the State’s tourism guide.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ball said, “Maple Weekends let visitors see firsthand how our producers turn our first crop of the year into syrup, candy and so much more.  The maple industry has taken some really great steps to increase their outreach and their innovation is bringing new, creative maple products to marketplace.  I encourage everyone to visit a maple farm this year and experience the true delight of New York maple syrup.”

Empire State Development President, Commissioner and CEO Howard Zemsky said, “New York State is one of the nation’s top maple syrup producers and makes some of the world’s finest maple products. During Maple Weekends, I strongly encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to sample some of these delicious products, and support our farmers and syrup producers.”

Helen Thomas, Executive Director of the New York State Maple Producers Association said, “Due to the mild weather, our members have already been making plenty of syrup for the tastings and goodies to eat that you will find at our sugarhouses. I've been personally taste testing and I can report it is delicious – the best ever!  Please come and enjoy a day with us and the maple trees.”

Stephen Childs, the New York State Maple Specialist with Cornell University, said, “I have been involved with Maple Weekends now for 22 years and they are the greatest family activity that allows the residents of New York to not only see who is making these great maple products and how it is done, but also to get a taste of everything maple.  The Cornell Maple Program has been very active in expanding the variety of maple products for residents to experience as well as providing a variety of recipes for new ways to use maple syrup at home.  Don’t miss this chance to visit a maple farm during Maple Weekends.” 

Keith Scheibel, agriculture teacher at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School said, "Maple Weekend is an awesome family opportunity to experience first-hand one of agriculture's finest and purest crops: maple syrup.  Through statewide open houses, participants can view operations and taste the sweetness of nature's first crop of the new season."

Michele Ledoux, who works with maple researchers and producers through the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and is executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County, said, “Maple Weekends are the ultimate maple tourism experience for families and individuals across the State. It provides the opportunity for maple producers to showcase their operations from the traditional horse-drawn bucket collection to ultramodern tubing and reverse osmosis systems. The culinary experience cannot be surpassed, offering a wide range of maple products to satisfy any taste. Research by Cornell's NNY Maple Specialist Michael Farrell estimates the potential in the northern part of the State alone at $10 million. Come out and enjoy an experience like no other by visiting a maple producer near you.”


2017 Press Releases