Michigan State University is tapping into the expertise of researchers at the Fred Russ Forest in Decatur, Michigan, through the development of a collegiate-licensed product, Spartan Pure Maple Syrup.
July 27, 2015 - Holly Whetstone
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State University (MSU) is tapping into the expertise of researchers at the Fred Russ Forest in Decatur, Michigan, through the development of a collegiate-licensed product, Spartan Pure Maple Syrup.
With the goal of providing research, education, extension and outreach, the MSU Department of Forestry used roughly 2,000 sugar maple trees covering 70 acres to create a product that’s available to the public. Ten additional acres have remained untapped so researchers can compare growth with that of tapped trees.
“This venture reconnects MSU, MSU AgBioResearch and the MSU Department of Forestry with the Michigan Maple Syrup Association,” said Greg Kowalewski, resident forester in the MSU Department of Forestry. “The plan is to inventory, grade and value all of the trees being tapped on the 70 acres.”
One of the oldest agricultural crops, maple syrup is produced solely in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada. A goal of the project, which is in its first year, is to expand maple syrup production and show land owners the value of tapping their trees rather than selling them as timber. In some cases, tapping may lower the value of the tree. But for many, maple syrup could be a viable enterprise.
“I am encouraged to see MSU tapping into maples, an underused resource that covers the state of Michigan,” said Art Currey, president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. “With the expertise of the MSU Forestry Department, good things will happen through research for maple syrup producers throughout the state.”
Michigan ranks fifth in U.S. maple syrup production, even though only 1 percent of maple forests in the state are used to make syrup. Kowalewski believes this project could change that.
Spartan Pure Maple Syrup is an all-natural product with no additives or preservatives. It is available in several sizes: half-gallon jugs for $37.89, quarts for $20.98, pints for $13.66, half pints for $7.78 and 3.4-ounce containers for $3.50. Proceeds from sales will support the project, as well as Department of Forestry explorations of sustainable forest management options.
The product is currently for sale at the MSU Surplus Store at 468 Green Way, just off of Farm Lane, in East Lansing. Other on- and off-campus locations will carry Spartan Pure Maple Syrup soon.