Comparative Analysis of Four Maple Species for Syrup Production in South-Central Appalachia

Keywords: Maple Syrup, Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Red Maple, Box Elder, South-central Appalachia, Agroforestry, Non-Timber Forest Products

Abstract

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum L.) is a key cultural and economic resource from eastern Canada to south-central Appalachia. Environmental uncertainties could create problems for this iconic species, in particular affecting the southern extent of its range and thus increasing the need for alternative species in maple syrup production. To mediate uncertain­ties, some producers tap additional species, including box elder (Acer negundo L.), red maple (Acer rubrum L.), and silver maple (Acer saccharinum L.). For viable marketability, sap from alternative species should be comparable to sugar maple in volume and sugar concentration. In the 2016 and 2017 tapping seasons, data were collected on sap volume and sap sugar concentration (SSC) for each of these maple species. Sap parameter performance data revealed box elder and to a lesser extent silver maple as the most appropriate alternative species for syrup production in the south-central Appa­lachian region, while red maple, which is a com­monly tapped species in northern regions, per­formed comparably in SSC but very poorly in sap volume in this study. Diversifying sap sources could provide additional sap and tree counts avail­able to producers, allowing for more varied man­agement strategies to mediate climatic variations and uncertainties. This diversification can also allow for industry expansion into areas without sufficient sugar maples and potentially create a new product niche in the maple industry, which can promote rural economic development in south-central Appalachia through ways compatible with other sustainable agroforestry and outdoor tourism efforts.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Jacob D. J. Peters, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Natural Sciences.

Jacob Peters is currently a master's candidate in biology at James Madison University.

Ryan D. Huish, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

Associate Professor of Biology, Department of Natural Sciences

Dakota C. Taylor, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Natural Sciences

Benjamin A. Munson, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Natural Sciences

Published
2020-03-06
How to Cite
Peters, J., Huish, R., Taylor, D., & Munson, B. (2020). Comparative Analysis of Four Maple Species for Syrup Production in South-Central Appalachia. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(2), 267-276. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2020.092.015