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The Economics of Managing Maple Trees for Syrup or Sawtimber Production

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It is often debated whether using maple trees for syrup production is more profitable than managing them for sawtimber. This paper utilizes a net present value (NPV) calculator to determine whether a landowner would earn greater profits by leasing an individual maple tree for syrup production or managing it for sawtimber production. Three scenarios are analyzed with the NPV calculator to demonstrate the instances in which the choice is clear and in which the decision-making process is more difficult. This paper explores the variables that have the greatest influence on the results, including the initial tree size and growth rate, species (sugar or red maple), lease payments, stumpage rates, property taxes, discount rates, and the time horizon of the investment period. The primary attributes that favor leasing taps include small/slow-growing red maples, high lease rates (≥$0.50/tap/yr), low stumpage payments, property tax reductions for maple sugaring, low discount rates, and long-term planning horizons. Attributes that favor timber management include large/fast-growing sugar maples, low lease rates (<$0.50/tap/yr), high stumpage payments, property tax reductions for forest management, high discount rates, and short-term planning horizons.
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Keywords: economics; maple syrup; net present value (NPV); red maple; sugar maple

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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    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.
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