The International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) has targeted adoption of a new maple grading system for the 2015 maple production season, subject to obtaining regulatory approvals. The IMSI represents most U.S. state and Canadian provincial maple producer associations, as well as maple packers and maple research institutions. The decision to revamp the grading system came about based on a comprehensive review of existing maple grades, nomenclature, current regulations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as consumer research findings on maple flavour. The goal is to provide a single reference for the entire maple industry and its consumers and to end bias against the darker syrups, which because of its "Grade B" or “No. 2” labeling has been equated with an inferior product. While these revisions are coming, not all maple syrup producers know or understand them yet.

The new standards are, in large part, meant to reduce confusion. It is less important to those who sell locally to their neighbours than it is to those that cater to out of province (mail order, web order, and retail crossing provincial or international jurisdictions). The number of syrup classes has been reduced which also helps reduce confusion and the light transmittance breakpoints are very easy to remember compared to the old system. Altogether, it is a simpler system that has more information to help consumers pick what they want. This is NOT a government driven change. It was proposed and developed entirely within the maple industry. There is flexibility to allow producers and packers to put other things on the labels as long as the required descriptors are also on there.

The IMSI standards are not mandatory, but the organization is recommending them for all maple regulatory agencies in the U.S. and Canada. Once the new standard is adopted by the regulatory agency in a particular state or province, maple producers and packers will have to comply with the new standard. It will be up to state and provincial maple regulatory authorities to decide if the new standard will be mandatory or voluntary. Enforcement and compliance will be entirely up to the government agency responsible.

The changes encompass the following:
•All current grading systems used will be eliminated and replaced by a single, international, standardized grading system.
•Only two grades will exist: Grade A (for retail sale) and a Processing Grade.
•Grade A will have four colour classes, each having its own quality descriptors, which will eliminate the current discrimination against darker syrup.
•Grade A can be any colour, but no off-flavours are permitted to be sold.
•Any syrup that does not qualify for Grade A (including off-flavoured syrup) must be labeled as "Processing Grade." This syrup may not be sold in retail markets and must be packed in 5-gallon or larger containers.
•Pure maple syrup can only be produced from the concentration of maple sap or from the solution or dilution of another pure maple product in potable water (reconstituting maple sugar into syrup)
•Syrup must fall between 66.0 and 68.9 on the Brix scale. Recommended in the 66.5-67.5 range for best flavour.
•Must comply with federal and provincial regulations for contaminants.
•Must comply with federal and provincial regulations such as labeling, standard containers, etc.
•Must have proper determination of grade and colour class
•Must be traceable to batch (have a recordable code on container)

Impact to producers:
•Labeling will change, whether through adhesive labels or silk-screening changes for those with private labeling.
•A new grading set will be required but a transition time will be allowed.
•Changes will not go into effect until at least 2014 and are subject to regulatory approval.
•More strictly identifies and regulates off-flavoured maple products.
•Producer can continue to apply creativity with label design and additional marketing descriptors in addition to the standard at their discretion.
•Producers will have to educate new consumers in the new grading system, but can correlate it to the existing system for long-time customers. This is a great opportunity to dialogue with consumers about the product.
•Maple producers will be identified as a unified voice when needed to face any issues regarding the industry as a whole, such as adulteration of syrup, misleading advertising, etc
posted on Sep 20, 2014

The troublesome Asian long-horned beetle has re-emerged, this time from trees in Mississauga, leaving its perfectly round exit holes and fears of another invasion. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said inspectors confirmed the pest’s presence northeast of Pearson airport in late September, after a person found one of the distinctive beetles on his car in August. Twenty trees have since been removed and two have been confirmed infested, according to the CFIA. A 2.4-kilometre swath of land near the American Drive Business Park, an industrial park at highways 427 and 409, is being surveyed. The Mississauga tree canopy could face disaster. According to a 2011 technical report prepared by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the worst-case scenario would be costly: 56 per cent of Mississauga’s tree population is susceptible to the beetle, amounting to a potential loss of $702 million. That’s why the invasive species is taken so seriously, said Gavin Longmuir, Mississauga’s urban forestry manager and co-author of the report, who was contacted by the CFIA in September. “You can imagine if that insect got out into the larger open forest north of the city or west or east and how that would have a huge impact.” Actual damage would likely be less severe, the report states. The beetle attacks hardwood species and is especially fond of maple, but will settle for elm, birch, poplar and mountain ash trees, among others. Larvae burrow in the trees and leave dime-size holes when they emerge as adults with blue-black and white-spotted bodies three centimetres long. The larvae feed on the green inner bark and those exit holes leave the tree structurally unsound and unhealthy. An affected tree can be dead within a few years. The exact scope of the infestation is yet to be determined, Longmuir said. In April, the federal Agriculture department declared the pest eradicated from Canada. It was last detected in late 2007, and first noticed near the Vaughan-Toronto border in 2003. Nearly 30,000 trees were removed from affected areas in the GTA. In some cases, all susceptible trees within a 400-metre radius of an infected tree were chopped down. But this invasion is likely new and not a continuation of the old one, said Gregory Wolff, the CFIA’s chief plant health officer. A property manager with Bentall Kennedy, which runs the American Drive Business Park, said one maple tree was cut down on site but was not aware of a larger problem. It was not immediately known how the beetles were imported. The beetle is native to East Asia and has no natural predators in Canada. It can fly only short distances and typically moves with the transport of cut wood, fire wood and wood packaging materials. The CFIA is asking the public not to move firewood.
posted on Dec 15, 2013

If you missed the LEME last November you missed one of the most exciting maple events to come along in years. Planning for the 2013 edition, in November, is underway. LEME Chairman Daryl Sheets reports that we have confirmed some new speakers for 2013. They include Dr Timothy Perkins from University of Vermont Proctor Lab, Steve Childs from Cornell University and Dr. Gary Graham from The Ohio State University. The LEME will once again be held in Albion, Pennsylvania on Friday and Saturday November 8, & 9, 2013 at the Northwestern High School. Albion is about 15 miles South of Erie on St Rt. 18 and 6N.

New this year, will be three Maple Syrup Production Workshops, 10 - 2 Friday. With the LEME being held in early November this allows for an expansion of the programing format. It also allow for outside workshops that would not be possible in winter months. Planned this year are workshops on Managing Vacuum Tubing Systems, Tubing System Installation and a specialworkshop just for beginners. The vacuum seminar will be held at Gary & Shirley Bilek’s, Triple Creek Maple north of Albion. The program presenters will be Steve Childs from Cornell University and Les Ober from The Ohio State University. The program will cover the use of vacuum in tubing systems from installation to operation. At the Albion High School, Karl Evans from May Hill Maple LLC and Glen Goodrich from Goodrich Maple will help guide producers through the process of installing a tubing system. Laura Dengler will conduct a workshop for backyard producers. This event will also be held at Gary & Shirley Bilek’s. The registration for the events will be separate and the attendance will be limited and on a first come basis. More information on the workshops will be available soon.

So what can producers expect when they arrive at the LEME? The LEME will kick off Friday evening with a 4 hour tradeshow from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. Rounding out the program on Friday evening will be a Maple Rap Session where producers will have a chance to ask questions and get answers from a group of experts. On Saturday, the program will run from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with a break for lunch which is included in the registration fee. There will be breakout sessions that will cover a variety of topics. Presenting the topics will be speakers from the Maple Industry, University of Vermont, Penn State University, Cornell University and The Ohio State University. There will also be producers from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio presenting and working behind the scenes to make the expo a success.

The facility at Northwestern High School has over 5,000 sq. ft. available for the tradeshow with additional rooms if needed. There is a 600 seat auditorium and multiple classrooms available for speakers. Most are equipped with modern audio visual equipment. The LEME Committee has enlisted the help of the Albion FFA Chapter to help put on the Expo.

Information will be posted on the Northwest Pa. Maple Syrup Producers Association and Ohio Maple Producers Association websites , , and the Ohio Maple Blog at There will be a complete list of speakers, topics and times released by September 1st. Registration deadline is set for October 15, 2013 and preregistration is required. If you want to make a weekend out of your visit, the Erie PA area is one of Pennsylvania premier vacation areas with something for all members of the family. In addition, fall is a wonderful time to visit NE Ohio and Western NY home of some of the best wineries and most interesting natural and historical sites in the nation. Mark your calendar and get ready to attend one of the premier maple trade show and educational seminars in North America.
posted on Sep 2, 2013

The International Maple Grading School will be hosted just prior to the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association annual Summer Tour and AGM in Cornwall, Ontario on July 9 - 10, 2013. The International Maple Grading School is for maple producers, bulk syrup buyers, state and provincial inspectors, and others needing to accurately grade maple syrup or judge maple product entries at fairs and contests. Quality control issues are also addressed. This school will provide a strong scientific base combined with intensive hands-on exercises. This approach will enable participants to learn how to grade or judge maple products with confidence. The registration fee of $135 per person includes refreshments, lunches, reference materials and a take home maple grading kit.The International Maple Grading School is sponsored by the International Maple Syrup Institute, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

For further information visit online at:

posted on Jan 14, 2013

The Lake Erie Maple Expo (LEME) will be held in Albion, Pennsylvania on Friday and Saturday November 9, & 10, 2012 at the Northwestern High School. Albion is about 15 miles South of Erie on St Rt. 18 and 6N. The format of the LEME is traditional, using a format similar to the New York State Maple Conference in Verona, New York. The LEME will kick off Friday evening with a 4 hour trade show from 5:00 to 9:00 pm. Rounding out the program on Friday evening will be a Maple Rap Session where producers will have a chance to ask questions and get answers from a panel of experts. On Saturday, the program will run from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm with a break for lunch which is included in the registration fee. There will be breakout sessions that will cover a variety of topics. Presenting the topics will be speakers from the Maple Industry, University of Vermont, Penn State University, Cornell University and The Ohio State University. There will also be producers from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio presenting and working behind the scenes to make the expo a success. Sugarbush.Info will be online live from LEME with several founding, contributing, and regular members on hand to answer questions and generally talk about the web site. We will be able to give you a guided tour of what we have available online and how it all works or add / update your own maple web site listing in our directory on the spot. We look forward to meeting everyone that stops by our table in November.
posted on Aug 11, 2012

www.Sugarbush.Info has just undergone a huge expansion to our free online services with the addition of a maple producers forum, photo gallery, and live chat system to compliment our existing web site directory and maple equipment classifieds. You can visit all areas of the web site by using the links in the main banner at the top of every page.
posted on Dec 30, 2011

We are proud to announce the official launch of the Sugarbush.Info maple classifieds section now online. Our new classifieds section is specifically designed with the maple industry in mind and it is both free to list ads and free to reply. With a great number of Google searches on used maple equipment being directed to Sugarbush.Info we felt it only seemed to suit our main objective - to serve the maple industry. Our new classifieds are fully featured with photos, text, ad management options, and even a zip code search for distances. While there may still be a few small glitches in the system we have had four maple producers testing things out for the past week and we're confident things are good to go.

You can check out the new maple classifieds on the web at http://www.Sugarbush.Info/classifieds2/ and list your equipment for sale today.
posted on Sep 1, 2011

The Asian longhorned beetle was recently found in southwestern Ohio and poses a serious threat to a number of tree species found in the state. It prefers all species of maples, as well as birches, elms, willows, horse chestnuts and buckeyes. Other tree species that may be a host for the Asian longhorned beetle, but are rarely attacked, include ashes, European mountain ash, hackberry, London plane tree, mimosa and poplars.

Last week, Gov. John Kasich signed an order restricting the movement of hardwood logs, firewood, stumps, roots and branches out of Tate Township in Clermont County to help prevent the spread of the beetle. The order is effective immediately and also restricts the sale of nursery stock, green lumber and logs of the following trees: maples, horse chestnut, buckeye, mimosa, birch, hackberry, ash, golden raintree, katsura, sycamore, poplar, willow, mountain ash and elms.

Working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of beetle in Tate Township, which is about 30 miles southeast of Cincinnati. Dan Herms, specialist in wood-boring insects with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, hoped the Asian longhorned beetle would never be detected in Ohio. It poses a serious threat to Ohio's trees, including all species of maples, which are among the most abundant tree species in Ohio's natural and urban forests.

It is a large beetle with very few look-a-likes in North America. It is up to 1.5 inches long with a very long black and white banded antennae. Its body is dark blue to bluish-black with distinctive irregularly-shaped and -sized white spots. It produces a dime-sized exit hole in the bark, which can result in the trunk being riddled with exit holes. Adult emergence holes are circular and very large measuring up to a half-inch in diameter. Although the beetles are capable of flying several hundred yards in search of a suitable host, they prefer to remain close to the tree from which they developed in order to re-infest the tree if it will support another generation. After mating, females chew an oblong-shaped pit through the bark and phloem, depositing a single egg. Females are capable of laying 35-90 eggs during her lifetime.

The pits and adult exit holes, if found on living branches and stems, are strong diagnostic indicators for an Asian longhorned beetle infestation. The beetles are classified as "round-headed borers." The segments towards the front of the fleshy, thin-skinned, yellowish-white larvae are larger in diameter than the rest of the segments. This makes the larvae look like they have round heads and tapering bodies. Early larval feeding activity produces weeping canker-like symptoms on the bark. Later larvae stages bore deep into the white wood.

Signs of infestation include perfectly round three-eighths to half-inch exit holes made by adult beetles when they emerge from trees; the pockmarks on tree trunks and branches where female beetles deposit eggs; wood shavings and saw dust produced by larvae feeding and tunneling; early fall coloration of leaves or dead branches; and running sap produced by the tree at the egg laying sites or in response to larval tunneling. According to Ohio Department of Agriculture, the beetle could decimate maple trees in Ohio, threatening up to $200 billion in standing timber, hurting maple sugar processors, damaging the state's multi-billion dollar nursery industry and diminishing Ohio's popular fall-foliage season.

Discovering this damaging insect early in Ohio is important. Unlike unsuccessful eradication attempts for the emerald ash borer in Ohio and other infested states, the Asian longhorned beetle is being effectively contained in the other four states with known infestations -- Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York -- and in Ontario, Canada.

posted on Jul 1, 2011

With spring just around the corner most maple producers have stepped up operations in preparation of the highly sought after "first run" which typically produces the lightest syrup of the season. Some warmer climate producers near the Southern edges of the maple region are already reporting sap runs but most are busy working their way through setting thousands of taps in preparation for their own mid-February to mid-March first run. As spring slowly edges North it will be the official start of the 2011 Maple season for all maple producers throughout the American Northeast and into Canada.

Now is the time for you and your family to be picking out a sugarbush to visit this season. Browse the listings in the Sugarbush.Info directory for your State or Province to find a local sugarbush and check out their web site for details of what they have to offer. A sugarbush, sugar shack, pancake house, cabane a sucre, or maple syrup festival comes in as many variations as Crayola Crayons with each one affording its own experience. See large factory style maple syrup operations utilizing 100’s of miles of tubing to fill tanks the size of swimming pools with sap until it can be processed by multiple evaporators and sent off to the automated bottling line. Perhaps more of a back to basics approach is of interest with traditional sap collection techniques and a home made evaporator set up in the “back forty”. A cabane a sucre offers a whole different experience yet again with its huge dining hall, live music, abundant food, and a real sense of celebration for the spring harvest. For those with a shorter attention span or a desire to see, hear, taste, and do it all the same day a maple syrup festival is the way to go with it’s multiple events, vendors, & displays.

If that is still not enough choice, those with young families can visit working farms where your children can hold the chickens, pet the rabbits, or feed the alpacas. Empty nesters may enjoy a romantic weekend away at a quaint country B&B complete with it’s own private sugarbush. Active types may enjoy a horse drawn sleigh ride or snowshoe hike through the maple forest and for the thrill seekers, you have access by snowmobile on groomed trails leading from one sugarbush to another. No matter what your interests it “boils down” to a delicious all natural product we all love. Visit a sugarbush with your family this year and create memories that last a lifetime.
posted on Feb 1, 2011

Several years ago my wife and I decided to start a small maple syrup business in Eastern Ontario and as most do these days, we turned to the Internet for information. That was the start of a long and often frustrating process of collecting web site links to suppliers, other local maple producers, and general maple industry information to help build our business. As an example of what I mean just try searching "sugarbush" on Google and you will get hundreds of pages about a ski resort in Vermont or a search for a maple producer in the State of Delaware will result in listings for either Delaware County, New York or the City of Delaware, Ohio. Over the years our list of links has grown to cover most of the maple producing States and Provinces and several birch syrup producers. Sugarbush.Info is our attempt at putting all of our links online for others to benefit from quickly and easily. It's our intention to develop Sugarbush.Info into a non-commercial one-stop maple syrup portal serving both consumers and maple producers alike.

With our official launch on January 1st, 2011 there is still much to be done. Design, databases, and programming are finished but adding links will be an on going process for most of the winter. Once the directory represents most online maple producers and suppliers resulting in a true North American Directory our focus will be turned to improving the usefulness of the site to the consumer by adding a zip & postal code distance search. People wanting to visit a local sugarbush will simply enter their postal code and get a listing of maple producers within a specific distance rather than having to browse based on State or Province. With over 43,000 U.S. zip codes and another 850,000 Canadian postal codes, both in different formats, it will be a big project that we want to work on exclusively once the balance of Sugarbush.Info is complete.

If you have your own maple syrup based web site it's completely free and without obligation to add it to our directory. Just navigate to the best category for your site and click on "Submit Link" on the silver menu bar near the top of the page. If your link is already listed, please review it and let us know about any changes you would like made to your listing. We encourage all web site owners to write their own description as no one knows your maple business or organization like you do. Our current site search is also based on what you add in the description field so keywords are important. Describe what is special about your business with lots of information about your location. Any web sites that link to Sugarbush Info will also be included in our "Featured Sites" box that appears at the top of every page AND your listing will appear first in your category. If you add a link to our web site be sure to let us know so that your listing will be upgraded to a Featured Site.

Merna & I are pretty excited about this project and look forward to seeing what develops from our efforts. Sugarbush Info is owned, designed, developed, managed, and hosted by Stonebriar Farm located in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

~ Bryan & Merna

You can visit Sugarbush Info on the web at www.Sugarbush.Info.

posted on Jan 1, 2011