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Thread: 5000 taps, one man

  1. #21
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maple Man 85 View Post
    My suggestion is engineer your processes to eliminate all wasted steps...
    This post is EXCELLENT advice in its entirety. Every little extra thing adds up over the season.
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  2. #22
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    Feb 2015
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    Westford, Vermont
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    Though I understand that the economics is not a primary consideration for you, I must comment that with the uncertainty in future bulk pricing, high cost of investment, and inevitably higher costs of production compared to the numerous very large producers in Vermont and throughout the region, I would take a close look at the money side before getting right into it. I bet that sugarwoods cost more per acre in Franklin County than in any other maple producing region of the U.S., except for those areas where development value drives up land value. I don't keep up a lot with projections for future pricing, but my understanding/feeling is that the market is maturing and the bulk price in the U.S. is going to stay relatively low as more large scale producers invest in the industry and existing producers expand. Those boiling from only 5,000 taps may struggle. Mark Canella and others have done some work on this at UVM Extension. Establishing a non-bulk market for your syrup will be difficult in Franklin County unless you are a creative marketer, or have existing connections that would allow you to move syrup outside of Vermont.

    Looking past this, if you were to go ahead with it, I would reiterate what others have said.

    Sell sap for a few years. You will get competitive payment for your sap due to the very strong demand for raw sap in Franklin County. This will allow you time to figure out your system and also wait a bit to see what the bulk market does. I feel like the next few years will show us where the market is headed, after that time hopefully we will know what to expect and have some certainty.

    If you do boil right off, I'd go with a high brix system and bulk concentrate storage. Having flexibility when to boil is huge, as others have said. Especially if it's a one person show, building in flexibility and resilience to your system will save you lots of time, money, and frustation.

    Be prepared to expand, so oversize your evaporator and make sure the sugarhouse can easily be expanded upon or is oversized to begin with. Overbuild your RO room and be prepared to add a second RO or most posts. Adding sap tanks in the future may be nice, but if you have enough RO, you can get away with less raw storage, especially if you choose the high brix route.

    It seems like producers run into issues with barrel storage and are constantly having to move clean barrels into the sugarhouse and full barrels up to the bulk buyer every few weeks. If you can, design a way whereby barrels could be filled in place and never really have to move until the end of the season. Or not have to be moved far. I envision a big pole-barn just outside the sugarhouse. You could leave all your barrels right there and fill them in place with a long hose from your filter press. This would really help to reduce labor during boiling- all you would need is a few barrel overflow fittings and lots of hose and you may not even need to worry about moving barrels until the end of the boil.

    Automate wherever you can, though I really don't know how quickly some of these investments pay back. Ideally you could have an automated RO and vacuum monitoring, the ability to turn your pump on and off remotely, etc.

    Your main focus should be maintaining high vacuum, so having a system that minimizes sugarhouse time and maxamizes woods time will be very important to increasing yield. What I take most pride in and enjoy the most in my operation is maintaining high vacuum and that has worked out well for me.

    Lastly, but maybe most importanty, is having tubing installed by a knowledgeable person/crew. Luckily there are many such good crews here in northern Vermont, but many are booked out well into the future. Send me a message if you'd like the name of some installers.

    Good luck!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Merrill, Wi
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    344

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrTimPerkins View Post
    This post is EXCELLENT advice in its entirety. Every little extra thing adds up over the season.
    Thanks Dr. Tim, it's just a few things I learned along the way that are worth their weight in gold. As we continue to grow there will certainly be more challenges however if you've build a solid operating platform and have standard operating procedures in place everything as a whole will run smoothly. We've run into problems of our own but we've not repeated the same mistake twice. Become a student, evaluate information sources, experiment and enjoy the journey.
    Maple Man 85
    Anthony & Rebecca Renken
    2017=200 taps
    2018=4000 taps (goal) 3000 taps (actual)
    2019=7000 taps (goal)
    30x45 Sugar House
    4x16 Leader Vortex
    www.northwoodsmaplefarm.com

  4. #24
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    Jan 2012
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    Middlebury Center, PA
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    1,392

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    There is some pretty good advice here from others for you for sure. There is some very good people on here who are willing to help answer all sorts of questions.

    I say go for it! I will share my personal story a little. I started by hauling sap and used 3 seasons to get my tubing system installed expanding each year and going to vacuum for year 3.That year I hauled A LOT. So I decided to build a sugar house. I built at the bottom of the hill didn't worry much about the driveway etc...I have everything set up on wet dry system and every drop flows right to my sugar house either by vacuum or an automated pump. We install more mainlines and less 5/16. No more than 3 taps per saddle. We use valves gauges and booster manifolds to help us isolate leaks and maintain 26" all season.

    When building the sugar house I only had limited help building paid an excavator and paid my uncle a contractor to help with the concrete trusses and roof he also helped with electrical. The sugar house is set up so one person can boil and run the ro and keep an eye sap coming in.

    I bought a used oil fired evaporator much bigger than needed and a used 600 gph ro. My first year boiling on my own I was engaged with no children now #3 is on the way. This was season 5 on my own we added a piggy back and a 1200 gph ro with an Equip grant through NRCS something you might look into but you have to be already making syrup to apply. It is a pretty cool program. Love both of them I must say the piggy back is unbelievable. I have plans for a monitoring system and security cameras so I can see everything while I'm at the evaporator.

    This summer we are looking to add on to the sugar house some and we are looking into making it more convenient for the family. My goal is simply to have as many taps as possible every year until I get all of them. I have 400 acres.

    I always have tubing and supplies on hand for expansion for whenever I get time. I would say unless money isn't an issue either build your sugar house yourself or install your tubing yourself you could do both but time will be more of a factor.

    I always say if you want something you can't be cheap and lazy both!
    Jared

  5. #25
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    Apr 2019
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    ADK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanbridge View Post
    I've been sugaring my small sugarbush at home for years (300 taps), so I have a good idea what I'm getting into. I'm big into forest management. Tubing and RO will be new to me however. The lot I'm considering is nearby in beautiful Franklin County, VT.

    Of course the economics is a factor. But it is not the only factor. If economics were everyone's no.1 focus, we would have no independent restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, mom&pop stores, general stores...
    Hate to say it but, I would assume you are Canadian then? You will need US work authorization to start a company in the US. Food for thought.

  6. #26
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    Feb 2013
    Location
    Elsie mi
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    114

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    I say start looking for dairy farm bankruptcy sales and find a good working bulk tank for your concentrat.
    Keep us dreamers posted on how it goes . Mabe do a series on YouTube to help generate interest and possibly revenue. Marketing online will be key to good sales.
    Good luck
    25 years sugaring
    2018 191taps. Made 80 gallons
    Two taps to a 5 gallon bucket roadside trees.
    A retired dad to hump buckets and do most of the boiling the great wife that let's me spend lots of time and money.
    New Smokey lake 2×6 raised flue SSR on my own version of the silverplate arch.
    2019 new hood and new preheater concept that worked great.
    306 taps roadside trees

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Stanbridge Station, QC
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    22

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    Quote Originally Posted by shamrock View Post
    Hate to say it but, I would assume you are Canadian then? You will need US work authorization to start a company in the US. Food for thought.
    Luckily, I am as american as most of you. I was lucky enough to get US citizenship through my mother.

    All this advice has been great, many valid suggestions. I will keep you posted on my progress. Like WestfordSugarworks mentioned, land in Franklin County does come at a premium, so I hope that the seller and I can agree on a fair price.

  8. #28
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    Apr 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanbridge View Post
    Luckily, I am as american as most of you. I was lucky enough to get US citizenship through my mother.

    All this advice has been great, many valid suggestions. I will keep you posted on my progress. Like WestfordSugarworks mentioned, land in Franklin County does come at a premium, so I hope that the seller and I can agree on a fair price.
    Great then, good luck!

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Stanbridge Station, QC
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    Well, it was not to be for this specific piece of land. We're 10k apart on the price, and I'm not willing to budge as I've already been quite generous with my offer.

    The search goes on for that special piece of Franklin County to call my own. Feel free to PM me if you know of anything that might be of interest.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Maine
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    509

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    Keep an eye out in the classified section. There is a subfolder for land sales.

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