Maple Research Program

Maple Industry in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia maple industry is a significant contributor to the Nova Scotia’s rural economy. Nearly, 2500 ha are tapped with a potential for expansion to nearly 95,015 ha that can be tapped (Devanney report March 2012). Currently, Nova Scotia accounts for nearly 2.5% of the Canadian maple syrup produced with a great potential to grow. The number of taps increased from 75,000 in 1973 to over 390,000 in 2013 and it is expected to grow.  Canadian maple syrup is primarily exported to the US, Japan and Germany (Stat Canada 2012) with great potential to expand.

Nova Scotia maple syrup has recently been identified to have very unique phytonutrients that are associated with health and wellness (Maple Research Programme Report, 2013). Maple products fit with and appeal to the local food movement.

The Challenges

Maple producers are faced with several challenges. Some of the key points are as below:

  • We need greatly improved performance in the areas [of] productivity, trade, innovation and value added production.
  • Low yield in Nova Scotia in terms of volume of syrup produced per tap.
  • Need to develop and promulgate best management practices.
  • The importance of maple syrup production as a contribution to the rural economy of NS can be expanded.
  • In order to improve on the success of the maple industry and our impact on the rural economy of Nova Scotia and to build on the results of our research, MPANS has adopted  the following priorities:
    • Enhanced education and extension activities focused on best management practices for the industry;
    • A more robust  web site as a promotion, education and communication tool;
    • Strengthening the MPANS organization;
    • Effective representation of the industry to the public and to partners;
    • Successfully hosting the International Maple Syrup Institute and  North American Maple Syrup Council conferences here in Nova Scotia in October, 2014;
    • Launching the next stage of the Maple Research Program including developing a funding strategy to do this.

Maple Research Program Steering Committee

  • The Maple Research Program (MRP) steering committee was formed in 2012 consisting of Nova Scotia maple producers (Robert Frame, Kevin McCormick, Matthew Harrison); a maple marketer (William Allaway, CEO and VP Operations of Acadian Maple Products Ltd); a researcher from Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture (Dr. Rajasekaran R. Lada Ph.D., Director and Chair of the MRP Steering Committee); a representative of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture (Ron Young); and Dale McIsaac, associate of Perennia.
  • The steering  committee acts as the coordinating body in the partnership between Dalhousie University and MPANS for  maple research in Nova Scotia

The Vision

Develop Excellence in Maple Production, Products and Technology


To identify and explore actions that will enhance knowledge of maple tree physiology, food safety practices, and develop innovative technologies, production practices and branding to make Nova Scotia a recognized leader in sustainable and ecologically responsible maple production and marketing.

Research Priorities

Maple producers have identified declining yield per tap as their major concern, in addition to developing best management practices. The following are the top research priorities identified by the members of MPANS:

a)       Marketing
b)      Nutrition/soil fertility -Maple tree health
c)       Tree physiology/management/sap flow
d)      New innovative products
e)      Design and engineering systems
f)        Insect and disease control
g)       Vegetation Management
h)      Post-processing and storage
i)        Breeding superior maple trees

Current Research and Accomplishment

The Maple Research Programme, under the leadership of Dr. Lada, has successfully completed three major projects – i) Maple production informatics and comparative maple syrup chemical analysis; ii) Impact of climate change on maple sap yield and iii) Tree Nutritional Physiology.

Maple production informatics and comparative maple syrup chemical analysis has just been completed. The report is available

Another project entitled, Impact of climate change on maple sap yield funded by the Department of Environment has just been completed under the leadership of Dr. Lada. The report is available:

Positioning NS Maple Industry through Research and Innovation

The maple industry in NS is a very unique rural bio-industry known around the world for the maple syrup we produce. We have significant opportunities to grow and generate new innovative products and technologies for the future. To remain globally competitive and to position our industry sustainably, we need to address the production challenges identified, which requires science-based innovative products and technologies. This proposal is to seek Government partnership with the industry to support Maple Research Programme to engage and propel the industry forward.  

Current Projects

Project I: Nova Scotia Maple Production Informatics and Maple Syrup Chemical Analysis (Completed)

This project was aimed to determine a) a link between syrup output, and management, operational and geographic location that would explain the variation in tap yield in Nova Scotia and ii) to investigate how unique Nova Scotia’s maple syrup is in its chemistry.

Project II: Climate Change Impacts on Maple Syrup Yield in Nova Scotia (Completed)

The goals of this project to i) assess the climate change scenario in Nova Scotia; ii) understand the links if any, between climatic factors and iii) model the relationship if any to predict syrup yield and sap flow dates.

Project III: Maple Tree Physiology and Innovative Soil Moisture and Tree Nutrition-based Sugar Forecasting Modeling. (Completed)

The project goals are to: i) understand the variability in soil and tree nutrient status (trunk and foliage) in various maple producing regions of Nova Scotia (Kings, Colchester, Cumberland, and Cape Breton), ii) compare soil and tree nutritional status with other provinces in Canada and USA; iii) understand the dynamics of change in soil, tree mineral nutrient status and moisture status across various sites; and iv) uncover relationships if any, with the soil physical properties, chemical factors, truck and foliage nutrients, soil moisture and sap sugar concentration with sap yield/tap.

Project IV: Comparative Chemical Analysis of Maple Syrup from Maple Producing Regions of North America

Project V: Innovative Maple Products

The Team

Dr. R. Lada Ph.D., P.Ag., UMC
Professor & Director,
Maple Research Programme

Jane Blackburn, B.Sc. Agr. (Plant Science)
Research Assistant

Industry Partner

Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia

Funding Partners

Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture
Nova Scotia Department of Environment
Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia
Growing Forward – Research Acceleration Fund
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)