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Potential Changes Expected in Sugar Maple Syrup Production

Photo of Chart of percent increase in number of taps estimated for Vermont, Wisconsin, and Kentucky at three dates (2040, 2070, 2100) and for two scenarios of climate change to maintain current production levels (PCM B1 - mild, and Hadley A1FI - harsh). Also presented is estimated added costs for taps, at $6 per tap. USDA Forest ServiceChart of percent increase in number of taps estimated for Vermont, Wisconsin, and Kentucky at three dates (2040, 2070, 2100) and for two scenarios of climate change to maintain current production levels (PCM B1 - mild, and Hadley A1FI - harsh). Also presented is estimated added costs for taps, at $6 per tap. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Scientists expect climate change to decrease the quantity of maple syrup produced per tap, especially in locations more peripheral in the current range of sugar maple; for example, Kentucky will be impacted more than Wisconsin, which will be impacted more than Vermont. To adapt, more trees will need to be tapped to produce equivalent levels of syrup, raising production costs.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Iverson, Louis 
Research Location : Eastern United States
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 805

Summary

Sugar maple trees provide maple syrup. Sugar maple is the primary syrup tree species worldwide because of the high sugar content in its sap, the taste of the sap, and the species’ high production of sap. The species is present over much of eastern North America, but scientists expect its future range under climate change to constrict and move northward. Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Northern Research Station studied potential changes in syrup production in three states: Vermont (the U.S. leader with 885,000 gallons in 2012), northern Wisconsin (155,000 gallons in 2012), and Kentucky (approximately 7,000 gallons in 2012); for three dates (2040, 2070, 2100); and, two climate change scenarios (mild and harsh). Using Forest Inventory & Analysis data and the research station’s Climate Change Atlas, the scientists assessed the likelihood of change in sugar maple distribution and production to estimate the additional number of taps required to equal 2012 syrup production for each state, date, and scenario. Vermont would need 13 to 18 percent (mild-harsh) more taps beyond its current 3.2 million by 2040 and 53 to 88 percent more by 2100, an 88 percent increase that translates to nearly $17 million at $6 per tap in Vermont. Even higher percentage increases would be needed for Wisconsin and Kentucky to reach 2012 production levels.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Forest Inventory and Analysis