Maple 101 Workshop This Saturday

Grey Ag Services is hosting a Maple 101 workshop covering equipment, sap collection, boiling, farm sales, and labelling, as well as insights into syrup production and marketing from local producers. This would be a great session for any beginners to maple syrup production, or anyone who wants a peek at how some producers in Grey Bruce set up their operations!

Date: Saturday, November 26, 2022 from 1:30pm-3:30pm

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Funding opportunities and information resources

RAIN’s SNAPP Funding

The Rural Agri-Innovation Network has opened applications for their annual Sustainable New Agri-Food Products & Productivity Program.

Intake is open from now until January 13, 2023.

Producers in Northern Ontario may qualify to receive this cost-share funding, where SNAPP will provide up to %10,000 at a 50% cost-share towards purchase of equipment and/or materials.

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Upcoming Fall Webinars

Fall 2022 has graced us with some glorious, showstopping colours. The combination of warm, sunny days and cool (but not freezing) nights the last few weeks has amplified certain red-producing pigments in the trees. This doesn’t happen every year, so hopefully everyone has had a chance to get out into the woods and enjoy them.

A tall stand of maple trees, closed-canopy, showing yellow and green fall colours.
Sugar maples changing colour.

In the lull before the snow sets in, find some time to tune into these excellent fall webinars.

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Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Info + Expert Panel Today!

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid found in Grafton, ON

[Parts of this article were adapted from CFIA communications]

A new, established population of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) was found in Grafton area in August 2022. The CFIA requests that woodlot owners begin surveying for HWA, making it a regular part of your walks in the bush. The CFIA’s survey approach is summarized further down in this post.

Underside of a hemlock branch with puffy white structures along the base of the needles
HWA nymphs and adults clustered at the base of hemlock needles. Photo: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station / © Bugwood.org, CC BY 3.0 us, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=

What is HWA?

HWA is similar to aphids in that they suck fluid from their hosts. They feed on cells storing nutrients and water at the base of hemlock needles, causing the needles to die and the trees to eventually take on a grey cast. There are two forms of the insect, each of which lay up to 300 eggs each year. This can result in exponential population growth due to the absence of natural enemies. A heavy infestation can kill a tree in as little as 4 years.

Why is it a problem?

In the States, HWA has caused widespread death and decline of hemlock trees, which in turn negatively impacts the types of animals, plants, and other organisms living in the ecosystem. Eastern hemlock in the southern Appalachian Mountains may be virtually eliminated in the coming years.

How does it spread?

The primary means of HWA spread is through the movement of infested nursery stock and by natural spread by wind, birds, and small mammals.

Though anyone with hemlock trees on their property can consider scouting, the following parties should thus prioritize scouting for HWA:

  • nurseries importing hemlock from infested or regulated areas
  • hemlock forests within 100 km of known infestations: Fort Erie, ON; Grafton, ON
  • stands of at least 4 hectares with a strong hemlock component

Signs and Symptoms

Egg sacs – white, cottony, and occurring at the base of needles on the underside of branches. They resemble cotton swab tips and can remain on the tree for up to a year.

Nymphs and adults – very small and difficult to detect. Nymphs can be long ovals, flat, black and may have a slight white fringe around their bodies.

underside of a hemlock branch. Hemlock woolly adelgid adults, which look like white cottony puffs, are found along one end of the branch. Hemlock woolly adelgid nymphs or immature stages are small brownish-green raised bumps along other branches. A red arrow is pointing at one of the green-brown bumps.
Red arrow indicates HWA nymphs at the base of hemlock needles. Photo: R. Neville

Twig dieback and discoloration of hemlock needles – HWA feeding causes these symptoms. In an advanced infestation, swollen growths occur at twig tips and no new branches or twigs will form. The crown of heavily-infested trees become yellow-green-grey and transparent from needle loss

CFIA hemlock woolly adelgid detection survey protocol

  1. Review images of the signs and symptoms of HWA in this article and familiarize yourself with what to look for. At this time of year, you’ll be looking for individuals rather than large-scale damage.
A closeup of a hemlock branhch with uneven green needles, and a small cottony puff which is a hemlock woolly adelgid adult at the base of a needle.
Individual woolly mass on a hemlock twig. Photo: D. Holden
  • Select a hemlock tree whose branches you can reach from the ground, without a ladder. In mature stands where this is not possible, use a pole pruner to remove two branches from the mid-upper canopy of selected trees. Binoculars or the ball sampling technique are also good alternatives.
  • Select a branch with green needles
  • Flip the branch over and look for evidence of egg sacs and nymphs. Focus your exam on the outer 1m of the branch.
  • If no woolly masses or nymphs are found, walk to the opposite side of the tree and examine a second branch
  • Examine the lower portion of the trunk for evidence of HWA before proceeding to the next tree. (Note: The folks that found the new population found the woolly balls on tree boles)
Hemlock woolly adelgid is seen as a small white cottony puff on a backdrop of brown bark on the trunk of a tree.
Evidence of HWA on the bole. Photo: E. Appleton

While walking to the next tree, look on the ground for hemlock branches that may have broken off from tree crowns, and examine all shoots for HWA signs.

Hemlock twig with sparse leaves lying on the forest floor.
Evidence of HWA on fallen twigs. Photo: E. Appleton
  • Mark suspect trees and sample branches to obtain an insect sample for lab confirmation
  • When walking along roads or open trails, use binoculars to scan hemlocks for signs and symptoms of HWA
  • If you find HWA, or something that you think is HWA, record the location of your find and take photos of the HWA and the trees. Please contact Nicole Mielewczyk Nicole.Mielewczyk@inspection.gc.ca and she will send a survey crew to confirm. Don’t worry about being wrong with you identification, in this case its much better to report.

A more detailed and systematic HWA survey protocol can be found here, beginning in section 6.3 on page 7.

How to report a sighting

If you find HWA, or something that you think is HWA, record the location of your find and take photos of the HWA and the trees. Please contact Nicole Mielewczyk Nicole.Mielewczyk@inspection.gc.ca and she will send a survey crew to confirm. Don’t worry about being wrong with you identification, in this case its much better to report.

Alternatively, please call Jenny at 519-835-5872 if you do not have access to email.

PLEASE BROADCAST THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR NETWORKS, especially your contacts in the Durham, Northumberland, Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes and Hastings Regions.

For more information and photos, click here.

HWA Q&A today (Sept 29th) at 2:30pm

The Invasive Species Centre is holding a HWA question and answer session with an expert panel: Chris MacQuarrie and Victoria Fewster from Canadian Forest Service, Nicole Mielewczyk from CFIA, and Kathleen Ryan from Silv-Econ Ltd. This is the perfect time to ask all your HWA-related questions!

Click here to register.

Past HWA webinars and how-to videos on sampling can be found on the Invasive Species Centre website here.

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May 21st Derecho Event – Available Supports

Maple syrup producers across a large swath of the province were affected by the derecho/tornado event on May 21. Reports have been rolling in of widespread damage to mature sugar bushes. Remember to stay extra safe and vigilant if you’re attempting clean-up yourself. There are reports of trees with their tops snapped off, but still suspended from the trunk. Every safety precaution should be taken if you will be entering an affected sugarbush.

I am currently collecting information about damage this event caused. If you or someone you know were affected, feel free to get in touch at jenny.liu2@ontario.ca with any information you have on # of trees damaged, infrastructure damaged, cleanup costs and effort, how this impacts future plans etc.

In the meantime, see below for some available financial supports. Please note the deadlines for application this year!

Business Risk Management Programs

The programs below are administered by Agricorp. More information can be found on their website or by contacting Agricorp directly.

AgriStability

  • AgriStability provides whole-farm coverage to protect producers from large declines in their farming income caused by production loss, increased costs or market conditions.
  • The federal and provincial governments have extended the deadline for 2022 AgriStability applications and fee payment to June 30, 2022.
  • In addition, two key enhancements to AgriStability were made last year to improve support for farmers. Both updates are effective as of the 2020 program year.
    • Ontario compensation rate increased – The provincial portion of the compensation rate for AgriStability has been increased from 70% to 80%. This is being paid as a top‑up, which will be paid separately from any initial AgriStability payments.
    • Coverage increased for farmers with removal of reference margin limit – With the removal of the reference margin limit, which was based on a farm’s average expenses, the reference margin is once again based on a customer’s recent average net income, potentially leading to a higher reference margin. This means less of a margin decline is needed for a payment to be triggered.
  • Producers should contact Agricorp to enrol. https://www.agricorp.com/en-ca/News/2022/Pages/AgriStability-Farmers-now-have-until-June-30-to-secure-coverage.aspx

Self Directed Risk Management Program

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April 21, 2022 Maple Syrup Production Report

Sap Flow Overview

The maple season is still churning along for producers in the northern regions and a few in Ottawa Valley. More happy reports are coming in of record-breaking yields. I’ve heard from more than a few who have stopped production not because of the weather or buddy syrup, but because they have made enough and just want a break! It looks like this will be the last week of the 2022 maple syrup season for most of the province, save for a few producers who have bushes located in the very coldest aspects.

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Maple Syrup Production Report Update

Sap Flow Overview

The continued warm weather of this week marks the end of maple season for most of the province, with the exception of Algoma and the northern Algonquin district. Buds are swelling, sap is becoming cloudy, and slight off-flavours are developing in finished syrup. The big runs most bushes experienced last weekend turned a below-average year into an average and even bumper crop year for most folks on vacuum! Haliburton-Kawartha in particular seems to have had an excellent season. Unfortunately, folks on buckets and even on gravity lines have had a more difficult year, with many reporting below-average yields.

If you’re a new producer, check out the blog posts with information on the end of the maple season, including what buddy syrup is and how to clean your lines.

For the maple syrup production report below, find your region here.

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April 6, 2022 Maple Syrup Production Report

Sap Flow Overview

It has been an eventful week! After last week’s freeze, sap flows reached seasonal highs from Thursday-Sunday. Producers from across the province on high vacuum reported collecting over 3 gallons (13.L) per tap, per day. However, the two-week forecast shows no more nights below freezing in the southern regions, and this is thus the last week of production for many in Southwestern and Waterloo-Wellington. Most folks in other regions are still holding out for low temperatures this coming weekend, but many have surpassed last year’s yields and are either at or are well on their way to an average crop year. No buddy sap has been reported yet, and sap is still mostly clear.

For the maple syrup production report below, find your region here.

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St. Joseph Island August 2021 Tornado: Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians Activated

On August 11, 2021, a tornado touched down on St. Joseph Island and caused damage to several maple syrup operations. To support farmers and landowners, the provincial government’s Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) has been activated for St Joseph Island. Both small businesses and farms and homeowners and tenants are eligible to apply. This means that if your primary residence, small business or farm operation was impacted, you may receive government support to cover your losses.

The activation area includes all of the townships of Jocelyn and Hilton and all of the Township of St. Joseph except Richards Landing. The activation area does not include the Village of Hilton Beach.

To be eligible, the business owner or farm owner must:

  • Be the day-to-day manager and own at least 50 per cent of the business.
  • Be dependent on the business income – The business provides at least 15% of their net income. An exception may be made if the business has at least one employee outside the owner-operator’s household.
  • Have no more than the equivalent of 20 full-time employees.
  • Have between $10,000 and $2,000,000 in gross revenue.

If you meet these criteria, you may apply for funding to cover:

  • emergency expenses
  • cleanup expenses 
  • costs to repair or replace essential property including the replacement of inventory or stock
  • equipment essential to the function of the business

Applications are subject to a $500 program deductible and eligible costs are paid at 90%.

If you are a small business or a farm, click here for all DRAO application details; if you are a homeowner or tenant, click here. The deadline to apply is July 29, 2022. Please share widely with St Joseph residents.

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March 30, 2022 Maple Syrup Production Update

Sap Flow Overview

The past week saw moderate to great sap flows before the province-wide cold snap of the last few days. Producers everywhere are in high spirits as the season has both extended the season and provided many with a much-needed pause. Most producers in the south have surpassed their yields from last year. Flavour is excellent throughout, and producers are repeating their annual mantra that the current year has the best flavour ever.

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