Maple Start-Up Investment Guides and Profitability Research

The age-old question for a farm financial adviser has been “Is the money moving from the business across the kitchen table into the owner’s pockets or is the money moving from the owner’s pocket across the table, out the door-yard and into the business?” There is no question that investment capital is needed for people starting or expanding a modern maple enterprise. UVM Extension has published nine start-up investment profiles to demonstrate the estimated investment required for enterprises at different scales.

Go to the Maple Business Resource Library at www.maplemanager.org to find the investment profile that will help with your planned start-up or expansion. 

The research finds that smaller start-ups might require $50-$60 per tap for the production investment plus an additional $25-$45 per tap for land purchases when the appraisal is $1,500-$2,500 per acre. Larger enterprises from 10,000-20,000 taps could require a slightly lower investment of $40-$50 per tap in production systems plus that same additional $25-$45 per tap if a property purchase is part of the plan.

International Maple Syrup Institute Explores U.S. Promotion Programs
This week the International Maple Syrup Institute Board of Directors will gather for their annual meeting to discuss a number of key issues facing the maple industry. One topic on the agenda will be the progress being made to explore different promotional program options for the United States. As the maple industry grows the IMSI seeks to understand different ways maple producers can work together to expand the market for maple syrup. The research committee plans to produce a series of articles later this year to share how different U.S. specialty crop groups have developed unified promotional programs and the different mechanisms that have been used to organize these initiatives.

New Northeast Maple Benchmark Report
UVM Extension has published the newest report that documents ongoing financial research with maple businesses. The 2020 NE Maple Benchmark is available at www.maplemanager.org on the Maple Business Resource Library page. A deeper look at the results is coming in the July newsletter.

Sign up for program updates when you visit www.maplemanager.org and you will receive the monthly newsletter on maple business development, markets and economics.

Sap Selling Season

A sap hydrometer measures the sugar content in a load of sap.

Maple sap harvesting has been underway in many US regions. Now well into March, the season is in full swing.

If you are in the business of selling sap or thinking about starting to, UVM Extension has business resources available to help. For example, you can use our Sap Pricing Calculator to determine the price per gallon paid to the seller or determine  Profit and Loss from Sap Hauling

The Economic Advantage of Sap-Only
Specializing in sap production and selling sap in a business-to-business transaction offers many advantages. Sap sellers are able to reduce their capital investments and focus specifically on sap production activity. Recent research shows that sap-only enterprises may require just 50% of the capital investment compared to a similar sized sap-to-syrup processing business. A typical 5,000 tap enterprise on previously owned property is estimated to require $100k-$120k in sap collection investments. For the same enterprise to invest in syrup processing capacity at least another $110k in capital start-up is expected. Sap sellers can focus their labor and attention to high yielding sap harvest systems without spreading skills and attention into the business of syrup processing, grading, packaging and sales.

Syrup processors see a significant advantage from sap purchasing as well. The investment in a sugar house and the processing equipment is significant. Many syrup processors are seeing the benefits of sizing their facility in order to purchase-in additional sap and increase their equipment usage to enhance profitability. These relationships also enable successful maple brands to supply more customers and focus on the market development logistics to expand maple demand.

Visit www.maplemanager.org for more maple business resources.

Registration is Open for UVM Maple Business Short Courses

UVM Extension offers two online short courses for current and prospective maple producers that begin in late October. Each course includes four classes (1.5 hours each), once per week, and teaching assignments that get participants completing real time analysis and making immediate decisions to enhance their business. Registration in now open for the Maple Business Planning and Maple Financial Planning short courses.

For more information see the course descriptions and registration information on the Events page at www.maplemanger.org. Or click the file below to view or share the informational flyer.

Maple Market Insights

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, with the Atlantic Corporation, has created an online interface that enables users to explore results from a 2020 Northeast United States consumer preferences survey.  Maple sellers can run interactive analyses of the results from over 1,500 participants at The Maple Data Dashboard to investigate the market demand for maple products.

UVM Maple business has published the summary fact sheet Maple Market Insights with key findings from the market research and the link to the interactive Maple Data Dashboard at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture website.

UVM Maple Webinar Series Begins in July

Maple syrup sample jars (Credit: Mark Isselhardt)

University of Vermont maple, business development and forestry specialists will present a series of online webinars starting July 21st 2021. Session information and registration is now available for eight sessions offered from late July through October. Register now on the Upcoming Events page at www.maplemanager.org or download the program schedule here: UVM 2021 Maple Webinar.

Topics will include: red maple syrup research, forest carbon, financial benchmarks, maple start-up investment profiles, sap-only enterprises, Northeast forest tax policy and more. Presenters will include: Abby van den Berg (Research Associate Professor), Anthony D’Amato (Director UVM Forestry Program), Mark Isselhardt (Maple Specialist), Mark Cannella (Extension Associate Professor) and Chris Lindgren (Forest Business Coordinator).

Register Today at www.maplemanager.org !

New Maple Business Reports – Summer 2021

Sap hydrometer measures sugar content.

The UVM Extension Maple Business program has published several new resources for maple business owners and forest landowners. The following publications add to the growing list of guides and financial planning calculators at www.maplemanager.org:

Legal Entity Structures for Maple Producers: This guide describes several legal entities appropriate for single or multiple owners of a maple business. Set-up and maintenance considerations for LLC’s, LLP’s, partnerships and joint ventures will help existing and new owners find the right entity to meet their ownership goals.

Joint Venture Template: This document includes the major considerations that partners should discuss and agree upon when setting up a joint venture.

Northeast Maple Business Benchmark (2019): This most recent report summarizes financial performance and business metrics from a sample of maple enterprises in the northeast United States. Business records from 6,000 – 60,000+ taps maple businesses demonstrate investment requirements, cost of production and profitability.

Visit www.maplemanger.org for maple business development and forestry resources today.

UVM Maple Development Webinar Series Starts in August

Photo credit: Mark Isselhardt

University of Vermont maple specialists will host a series of online webinars focused on business decision making and forestry practices. Learn about the best practices to integrate business management and sugarbush management for a thriving maple enterprise that targets profits and forest health.

Session information and registration is now available for sessions on August 5th, August 19th, September 2nd and September 16th. Watch our website for an updated schedule advertising webinar topics for October- December. Register now on the Upcoming Events page at www.maplemanager.org or download the program schedule here: UVM Maple Webinar Schedule

Topics will include: sugarbush leases, rental rates, business planning, tapping practices to optimize yield, tapping red maples, business entity set-up, sap-only enterprises and more. Presenters will include: Abby van den Berg (Research Associate Professor), Mark Isselhardt (Maple Specialist), Mark Cannella (Extension Associate Professor), Chris Lindgren (Forest Business Coordinator), attorneys, foresters and industry specialists.

UVM Extension Agricultural Business To Host Weekly Web Forum

For the remainder of April UVM Extension Agricultural Business will host a 30-minute web forum every Thursday at 12:30pm to keep pace with emerging COVID-19 issues faced by farm and forest businesses. Each session will include an update on market situations for our farming sectors and information on hot topics, as well as time for questions and discussion.

 Weekly Focus Topics:

  • April 16th:  SBA Emergency Loan Programs
  • April 23rd:  Cash Flow Triage for Small Business
  • April 30th: Digital Entrepreneurship and Online Marketing

Please register in advance for this web meeting.

Contact Mark.Cannella@uvm.edu to register.

Watch for updates about this series on our blog.

UVM Extension Agricultural Business Educators are available for consultation

If your farm, forest or maple business is under pressure to plan for COVID-19 disruption, our educators are available for business coaching and can assist with locating resources. We can help with critical business decision-making, assessing changes to markets, financial planning and other issues facing your enterprises.

Contact one of our educators by email or leaving a voicemail to make an appointment:

Farm, Forest and Maple Business Clinics

UVM Extension Business Specialists Mark Cannella, Tony Kitsos, Chris Lindgren, Betsy Miller and Zac Smith are available to work one-on-one with farm, forest and maple businesses on their finances. Reserve a 1½ hour appointment to prepare documents that will help manage the business. Use the time to develop a balance sheet, update financial statements, review a business plan, consider changes to the business and more. Bring your financial statements, recent records and questions!

➥ 1½ hour, private meetings
➥ Nearly 100 appointments available from February – April 2020
➥ Held at UVM Extension Offices in 9 locations (Online or phone meetings are also available)
➥ FREE!

Business Clinics Information Sheet (PDF)

Contact Christi Sherlock at Christi.Sherlock@uvm.edu or 802.476.2003 to register for one of the appointments listed below.

To ensure adequate preparation, reservations must be made by the Thursday of the week before your appointment. If you require a disability-related accommodation to participate, please call at least three weeks in advance of your scheduled session.