Monday, April 21, 2014

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Technology continues to change maple industry

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Technology continues to change maple industry
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A sweet industry is changing in Upstate New York. Technology has made it easier for people to tap into the maple syrup business. Our Cara Thomas went to the New York State Maple Conference. She shows us how maple farms, large and small, have been transformed.

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Maple production in New York State has been around for hundreds of years. But farming methods now are much different than back then.

Dwayne Hill, President of New York State's Maple Producers Association, said, “We used to tap with buckets. You’d have to go to the tree have to gather each individual bucket. We have a wood fire evaporator to boil with wood.”

While some farmers still choose to use the original methods, others are taking advantage of the numerous technologies being developed.

“We’ve incorporated vacuum systems. Now we have check valve spouts and everything to increase production because you can’t count on Mother Nature to cooperate, so we have to use some of the technology that’s out there,” said Hill.

For example, in the past, farmers have relied on gravity to pull the maple out of the tree. And now they have a machine for that, which can double their production.

Jerry Maryles from Airtech Vacuum Inc. said, “The 10 to 15 years they’ve been starting to suck with vacuum, create with negative pressure and pull the sap out of the tree.”

And now there are tubing systems. Tubes hooked up to thousands of trees, which brings the sap to one location. From there, the syrup must be separated from the sap water. New technologies have been created to reduce boiling time by a matter of days, which also saves on fuel.

Rock Gaulin from H2O Innovation said, “After 3,000 tap, there is no way you can’t have it. Some people don’t want to have it, it’s a choice, but they’re losing money by not having it.”

Vendors say these technologies continue to advance each year by making the machines more efficient and also eco-friendly.

But all these new advancements will be for nothing if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. Maple production needs cool days and freezing nights. They’re hoping this winter will be much cooler than last year so they can put all their new gadgets to the test.

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