LAKE PLACID - More than 150 of the Empire State's top maple producers will gather in Lake Placid Sept. 27-29 for the New York State Maple Tour, hosted by the Adirondack Maple Producers Association.
"The group meets in different places every year and it's a great chance for producers to tour different sugarhouses and learn from each other and research different technologies," explained Mike Farrell, director of Cornell University's Uihlein Forest in Lake Placid.
Participants in the tour will visit several Lake Placid area sugarhouses including North Country School, which operates a wood-fired evaporator that boils 400 buckets of sap collected by students, and the Uihlein Maple Forest, the 200-plus acre research center and extension field of Cornell University. They will also visit Heaven Hill Farm, Henry Uihlein's old sugarhouse which has been renovated as a site for teaching local students about syrup production.
The event comes on the heels of this spring's maple season, which was considered one of the best in recent memory. An estimated 362,000 gallons of syrup was produced in the state, an increase of 10-percent from last year's production. The Cornell Sugar House alone collected more than 70,000 gallons of sap and produced a record 1,500 gallons of maple syrup.
"It just so happened that the weather was perfect for maple sugaring," said Farrell. "You're at the whim of mother nature; some years it's good and some it's not so good."
While the tour is aimed less at the average sight-seer and more towards maple producers, Farrell said there are hundreds in the region, whether they operate large-scale sugarbushes or simply collect sap as a hobby.
"While to some degree this is still a 'mom and pop' type industry with many people producing as a hobby, the industry is changing and becoming more technology based," said Farrell. "Producers are learning to be more environmentally friendly, but it's still labor and energy intensive for the smaller operations."