A sticky situation: Stockton University gets grant to study maple syrup production in NJ

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New Jersey is not typically known for being a giant in the syrup industry, but a federal grant issued to professors at Stockton University will allow them to give it a try.

The grant will allow researchers at the southern New Jersey school to see if South Jersey has the potential to produce maple syrup.

"We're not trying to compete with northern regions for syrup production,” says assistant professor of environmental science Aaron Stoler. “The idea is to find a way to use existing forests of red maple trees, which are common in New Jersey and many other states in the northeast, as a commodity."

The project is a part of a three-year grant the university received from the United States Department of Agriculture. Stoler says that sugar maples are most common when it comes to making maple syrup. But he says that New Jersey’s red maple trees have about half the sugar content.

"We are researching the effects that pulling sap out of the trees has on the trees themselves, has on the forest, has on the wildlife, has on the vegetation. And what kind of land is the best to provide that commodity,” Stoler says.

Anyone who has a red maple tree on their property can be a participant in the study. The university is looking for property owners with red maples who can help broaden their work. Tapping a tree is simple – one simply needs to drill a hole about 2-2.5 inches into the tree.

"We'll provide you with the equipment to tap the trees. You can keep the syrup, you can have fun with it. All we want to know is what types of landscapes are best for producing this syrup,” Stoler says.

The team conducting the study consists of professors in different departments including science, mathematics and economics.

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