Skip to main content


Introduction to Maple Syrup Production (BF 151)

Target Audience

This course will be especially useful if you are exploring the possibilities of maple sugaring on your land – be it supplemental income or for your livelihood. The material presented will assume little past knowledge of sugaring, but a background in agriculture or forestry will be very helpful.

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.


Michael Farrell is the Director of the Uihlein Forest- Cornell University’s Maple Syrup Research & Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, NY.

Steve Gabriel is an agroforestry specialist with the Cornell Small Farms Program, and co-owner of Wellspring Forest Farm.


Tues. Jan 12 – Feb. 16, 2016. Webinars will be on Tues. evenings from 6:30-8pm Eastern time, and will be recorded for later viewing.

Course Outline

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.

  • Week 1: Is Sugaring Right For You? Understand how to evaluate your site for a potential sugaring operation and decide upon the type of operation you want to pursue.
  • Week 2: Sugarbush Evaluation and Management: Learn how to gauge the tapping potential of your land and strategies to manage the maple resource for optimum productivity and health
  • Week 3: Sap Collection- an overview of the various strategies for collecting sap, including buckets, bags, 3/16 tubing for natural vacuum, and 5/16 vacuum-assisted tubing.
  • Week 4: Expanding Your Sugaring Operation on Neighboring Lands- learn how to increase your output by leasing taps and buying sap from nearby landowners
  • Week 5: Sap to Syrup- learn about different technologies and processes for converting sap to syrup in a safe, efficient, and economical manner
  • Week 6: Marketing and Value-Added Products: An overview of potential sales strategies and how to get the most value out of the syrup you produce


Registration costs $200. In addition, you will need to purchase the required textbook for the course, The Sugarmakers’ Companion by Michael Farrell, available at various sites online.

Register Now