Maple syrup production contributes approximately $5 million annually to Ohio's economy and provides supplemental nontimber forest product income for forestland owners. To better understand the factors that influence this important nontimber forest industry in Ohio, including producer heritage, producer age, sap collection methods, size of maple operation, and educational programming, we conducted a detailed survey of all known Ohio maple syrup producers (761 total producers). Over 80% of producers responded to the survey (620 respondents), making our analysis one of the most extensive of a maple industry in North America. In general, most maple operations in Ohio are part-time, family-based enterprises and over 25% of Ohio's maple producers are of Amish heritage. Although we estimate that there are over 400,000 taps in the state, the typical sugarbush is relatively small—the average sugarbush is 27 ac in size and over a third of the operations have fewer than 100 taps. Chi-square analyses did reveal several significant (α = 0.05) associations among producer characteristics. Although Amish producers were significantly younger and had significantly larger operations than their English or non-Amish counterparts (P < 0.001), a higher proportion of English producers reported using tubing collection systems than Amish producers (P = 0.031). Additionally, while larger maple operations tended to use tubing systems more frequently (P < 0.001), we did not detect a significant association between sap collection method (bucket versus tubing) and producer age (P = 0.169). Finally, English producers tend to be older. Older producers (>53 years old), producers using tubing collection systems, and producers with more than 250 taps were significantly more likely to participate in Ohio State University (OSU) Extension educational programming (P ≤ 0.05). These results suggest significant relationships among producer demographics and the characteristics of maple operations in Ohio, and future OSU educational programming should be tailored to reflect these important relationships.
Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.