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Introduction to Maple Syrup Production (BF 152)

Bf152MapleMaple syrup production is rapidly growing around the Northeast and offers a sound financial opportunity to utilize woodlots. This course explores the range possibilities of maple sugaring on your land – be it for supplemental income or for your livelihood. Also discussed are “alternative” trees for production, including Birch and Black Walnut. The content presented assumes the student has little past knowledge of sugaring, but a background in agriculture or forestry will be very helpful.

Please note that The Sugarmaker’s Companion is a required textbook for this course. Make sure you purchase it in time to have it in hand for the first week of the course. 


Target Audience

BEGINNER/ALL LEVELS – This course is for who exploring the feasibility of sugaring on their land, and while the basics will be covered many seasoned sugarmakers will benefit from the content, especially new research that will be presented.


Learning Objectives                                          

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the potential opportunities for producing maple sap and syrup on your land
  • Develop and manage a forest stand for optimal maple sap production and long-term health and productivity
  • Understand the costs and benefits of utilizing buckets, bags, gravity tubing, or vacuum enhanced tubing systems to gather sap
  • Design a maple tubing system to achieve maximum sap yields in a cost-effective manner
  • Understand the pros and cons and logistics of buying sap or leasing taps as a means of expanding your production
  • Process sap in to syrup in a cost effective manner that is appropriate for the size of the operation
  • Filter, package, and label maple syrup for sale according to the new grading system developed by the International Maple Syrup Institute
  • Develop a basic business plan for a successful sugaring operation


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis and ask questions to address your sugaring issues in real time. If you miss a webinar, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.



Steve Gabriel, Agroforestry Specialist for Cornell Small Farms Program, co-owner of Wellspring Forest Farm, and co-author of Farming the Woods.

This course will be co-taught by the Director of the Uihlein Forest, Cornell University’s Maple Syrup Research & Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, NY.


Tuesday November 6 – December 11, 2018, with webinars each Tuesday evening from 6:30 – 8:00pm Eastern time. Webinars are recorded for later viewing. Registration is closed. This course will next be offered in Fall 2019.

Course Outline

Week 1: Is Sugaring Right For You?  
Topics covered: Navigating in Moodle (our online classroom), course expectations, student introductions, top reasons to make maple syrup, history, and questions to consider before starting.

Week 2: Sugarbush Evaluation and Management 
Topics covered: Sugarbush ecology, evaluating the tapping potential of land, strategies to manage for optimum productivity and health.

Week 3: Sap Collection 
Topics covered:  Strategies for collecting sap including buckets, bags, and vacuum and natural gravity tubing, considerations for sap quality.

Week 4: Expanding Your Sugaring Operation 
Topics covered: increasing yield, leasing taps and buying sap from nearby landowners, contracts and common pitfalls.

Week 5: Turning Sap into Syrup 
Topics covered: cooking sap on wood, gas, and oil boilers, reverse osmosis, ways to increase efficiency.

Week 6: Marketing and Value-Added Products 
Topics covered: Sales strategies, making maple candy, sugar, and other products.


Registration for this course is closed. It will next be offered in Fall 2019. 

Fee for this course is $195-295, depending on household income.

Sign up a month or more in advance of the start date and receive $25 off. Sign up for three or more courses and received $50 off your total.