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Thread: 5000 taps, one man

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Stanbridge Station, QC

    Default 5000 taps, one man

    I'm thinking of taking the plunge on a 5000-tap piece of land. The land itself slopes down to the sugarhouse site, which has roadside power. The plan is to operate it mostly on my own, as my kids are still too young to help. I'll have the occasional helping hand, but probably only about one day per week. Reliable hired help is just too hard to find. The savings on labor cost would be invested in time-saving equipment.

    To achieve this, I'm thinking of going the refrigerated bulk tank route to store concentrate and limit the actual boiling days. Oil-fired evaporator is a must. Perhaps a monitoring system in the woods. All of the production would be put into bulk barrels.

    Any thoughts, suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Albion PA


    Sounds like a plan,
    Several things:
    I can tap at a rate of 150 per hour, Some folks can do way more than that.
    Also woods monitoring sounds great. Woods maintenance will be even better and that may take some time.
    10000 gallons of sap on a great day. Thats a plie of sap. Most systems need some monitoring/work through the process. The right system may work for you. Good luck keep us posted with pictures!
    Since I am old and only a small producer this is beyond what I want to do. I have enough to do to tap 650 road side maples and make 150 gallons of syrup per year! Yea I can do that and still have some fun too!
    Casbohm Maple and Honey
    600 roadside taps
    3x10 King, WRU, AOF and AUF
    12" SIRO Filter Press.
    2015 Ford F250 PSD sap hauler
    One Golden named Maggie Cat named Lucy
    Too many Cub Cadets
    Ford Jubilee and several Allis WD's, and IH tractors


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Verona, NY


    I'm doing 4000 with only off season help, a day job, and hauling sap to SH, so its pretty doable. if i had monitoring and a bigger haul tank i could probably do 10,000 that way.
    2008-2013 30 Taps half buckets, half tubing
    30"X42" pan over oil arch
    2014- 1200 on vacuum, 200 gravity
    2015-2017: 2500 on vacuum
    2018- 2500 on vacuum, 100 buckets. selling sap & helping in saphouse.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT


    It is certainly possible. We have 2 people in our 5,000 tap sugaring operation, and my involvement is primarily in end-of-day RO operation (purge, wash, rinse) and boiling. Plus we do a LOT more record-keeping for data than the typical operation.

    One guy does the vast majority of the tapping here...he typically starts mid-January.

    Key thing with a refrigerated bulk tank is to concentrate as high as you can to get the volume down to a manageable level. We have a 650 gal bulk tank and a 300 gal insulated overflow tank. We'll concentrate until the bulk tank is full (and the concentrate is cold), then fill the overflow tank with cold concentrate...where it'll stay cold for a day or two. Makes for really long boils, but we have a lot of time in the intervening days to clean, prep barrels, check the woods (which we don't do a lot of since we have an extensive monitoring system). If you don't concentrate as high, your boils will also be longer or have to be more frequent.
    Last edited by DrTimPerkins; 04-08-2019 at 10:29 AM.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Lanark, ON


    Monitoring will be a must because you won't have a lot of spare time/energy to walk lines unless you can target your efforts on specific sections of the woods.

    Tapping 5000 on your own will be a challenge. If you have heavy snowpack getting 800 taps done in a day can be tough because snowshoes suck!

    To limit the amount of boiling you should consider a high brix RO or at least 3 towers on a standard RO. We are at close to the limit of what 2 towers can handle. If you are storing concentrate it must be refrigerated.

    The biggest problem I see with the solo operation is the "unplanned" time you need to spend. What do you do in the middle of a boil when your vacuum pump breaks down? The releaser malfunctions? You need a $1 part that is a 20 minute drive away? Or you are simply exhausted and need someone to give you a break.

    I know in Quebec you can only sell farm gate and that is significantly better profit than selling all in bulk. I would consider selling as much syrup in retail containers as possible given you are immediately adjacent to a road. Cash in your pocket at the end of a day's boiling is a good thing!

    Good luck with your endeavor.
    4,600 Taps on vacuum
    9,400 gallons storage
    3 tower CDL RO
    3.5'x14' Lapierre Force 5
    Twitter & Instagram: @ennismaple

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Peru, Maine


    Two of us run our own 400 tap operation but we do the woods repairs and tap pulling for a 5400 tap operation. We have full time jobs so are mostly weekend warriors with some days off spent in the woods. There is another guy that does the tapping for the 5400 tap operation. This setup is mechanical vacuum, 5/16" tubing and a total of 24 mainlines of variable length.
    Over the last 4 years we have averaged around 300 hours of time each season to do repairs, cut up trees, replace drops/taps, etc and tap pulling at the end of the season. The guy that taps spends about 60 hours tapping and 20 hours checking leaks at the start of the season to get the vacuum up to 24-25". This bush gets a lot of snow, there is still 3-4 feet in the woods still today so snowshoes are used at least 2/3 of the time and was 100% of the time this year as we got snow early. That make a huge difference in time. I feel like we would cut 30-40% in time off the repair work if we weren't battling snow but it is what it is so know what you're dealing with. 5,000 taps is alot for one guy when the sap rolls in. It may be hard to keep with any vacuum issues during the season so I would highly recommend a monitoring system. An RO is a must for that size operation. If you can dedicate 100% of your time to the operation during the season and keep up with maintenance before the season goes, I think you could do it but you will be a busy man. Good luck in whatever you decide!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Oneida NY


    Much of how many taps you can put in on any day will depend on the conditions, is the land flat or gently sloped? How much snow is on the ground? Another will be what other responsibilities do you have? What is your health condition too, at 72 I move far slower than I did at 40. It's not too much of an issue on my flat home bush, but on my lease there are parts that require something to hold onto just to get up the 45-60% slope. Think about all possibilities before you make the move. You might even be wise to line up a possible helper ahead if you can, just in case.
    Dave Klish about 1320 taps in '15, downsized after I lost my help, about 450-500 planned for 2021 (and after?)
    2012 Mahindra 36 HP 4x4/ loader/cab/heat/AC:-)
    3x8 raised flue evaporator
    250 GPH converted to electric, RO by Ray Gingerich
    6.32 KW solar system, 1.48KW is battery backed up, all net metered
    website: www.cnymaple.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    South Colton, NY


    You may wish to consider just selling sap for the first season in order to work the bugs out.
    3,100 taps
    60 cfm flood
    5 by 14 oil


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Salisbury, N.H.


    Sit down with a piece of paper and do some math on return on your investment (r.o.i).....seriously,,how much you will spend on buying what you need and what you know you can sell your syrup for..not what you think you can sell it for...if you make it past that point have a chat with your wife and kids and see if you not being around at all during the season and not much when its not the season is going to work for her and the kids...
    I have visited with a few one man shows that have well over 10000 taps...but..thats all they do all year..

    Now say you have some bad luck and break your leg the day sap starts to run...did you morgatage your house to get going?
    Salisbury Sugarworks,,Parker Rowe, and friends
    Salisbury, N.H.
    1988 taps in 09
    over 2500 on vac in 2010
    no buckets in 2010
    2815 taps in 2011
    shooting for 3000 in 2012
    4000 taps? In 2014
    5x16 wood fired "Mighty Marvin"
    50 cords in the shed
    Old, old R.O.
    Charter member Andover/Salisbury Mapleholics

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Eagle lake Maine


    If that's your full time job, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm gone 10+ hours a day at my day job and still run a 3100 tap operation. As others have said, tapping will be a challenge if you're in an area with steep ground and a lot of snow like we get here. I'm in good shape and can only do 300 or so a day in deep snow on snowshoes and this year, not even that many. If you don't have a day job though, you can keep trails packed along mainlines and do repairs throughout the winter. I don't have that luxury as I'm not home in daylight hours all winter.

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