By Jordan Strickler
Kentucky maple syrup producers will open their facilities to the public Feb. 4 for the fourth annual Kentucky Maple Day. Sponsored by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service and the Kentucky Maple Syrup Association through the Kentucky Maple Syrup Project, the day allows the public to visit the state’s maple syrup producing farms and sugarhouses to observe syrup's production and purchase locally produced maple syrup products.
In the 1930s, during the great depression, sugar rationing forced those who sought maple syrup to produce their own. After that, the number of people making their own syrup steadily decreased to the point where the practice was nearly extinct. In recent years, however, Kentucky has seen a rebirth in maple syrup production.
“There is currently a great deal of interest in the maple syrup industry in Kentucky,” said Billy Thomas, extension forester with the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Kentucky Maple Day is not only a great opportunity for the public to learn more about our growing syrup industry, but according to producers, it has also increased their visibility and revenue. In addition, the day provides a reminder to all that Kentucky’s woodlands are a valuable resource which provides many benefits.”
Activities will vary at each location. Producers will showcase their operations and sell pure maple syrup and syrup products, and some will also offer tours of their sugar bush and sap-collection systems.
Even though sugar maple trees are more familiar, Jacob Muller, assistant professor of hardwood silviculture and forest operations extension in the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, said red maple trees make a syrup that is as good as sugar maple syrup. Tapping red maple trees is a good start for those interested in entering the industry.
“There are more red maple trees that are an inch or larger in diameter in Kentucky than any other species,” Muller said. “Landowners should consider their woods an asset. Many in the state have maple trees on their property and can take advantage of the trees’ benefits.”
Organizers recommend those interested in attending call local producers in advance if they have any questions about what activities and products their location offers.
More information, including event times and a map of all participating farms, is online at?https://ky-maplesyrup.ca.uky.edu/ky-maple-day. It’s also not too late for producers to sign up to participate in this year’s activities. Those interested in hosting should visit bit.ly/3jNJEgx before Jan. 27.
“Kentucky Maple Day highlights a Kentucky forest product that is not only delicious but can serve as an important agritourism catalyst during winter for Kentucky’s farm operations,” Thomas said. Source : uky.edu