Goodrich’s Maple Farm gets ready for a sweet season

A taste of warmer weather has some maple sugar makers prepping for a sweet season.
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 8:14 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A taste of warmer weather has some maple sugar-makers prepping for a sweet season.

There are still a few weeks before the full season is underway, but Ruth and Glenn Goodrich with Goodrich’s Maple Farm actually started the process last year. Now, it’s in Mother Nature’s hands.

“Kind of a cross between the running of the bulls and an Ironman triathlon for sure,” said Ruth.

Some warm weather swings have the farm swinging into action. Ruth says now it’s a bit of hurry up and wait.

“It’s all now hinging on Mother Nature who seems to be out to lunch lately,” said Ruth.

But the prep for this large-scale sugaring operation goes back to last year.

“We go through the entire system and check for any problems,” said Glenn.

Glenn says when you have 116,000 trees on 4,000 acres at their Eden location alone, you have to start that early.

That allows time for repairs and upgrades to the 1,200 miles of system, so come mid-December, they can start drilling.

“That’s early for most folks, but we have a lot to do,” said Glenn.

And good thing they are ready because the sap is already running.

“A clip of warm weather, a little bit of sap, and then it’ll cool off again, you can kind of catch your breath,” said Glenn.

He doesn’t mind this turbulent time. Glenn calls it a dress rehearsal for the typical season starting early to mid-March.

Sap was running at about 200 gallons a minute Wednesday.

“We have four sap tanks. These are 34-feet long, and they hold 13,000 gallons apiece,” said Ruth.

They run a reverse osmosis system to condense the sap, store it in a cooling tank, then boil it. One of their latest upgrades is steam technology.

“So we were looking for something that would go faster and be more efficient for us,” said Ruth.

Their steam-powered evaporator is ready to operate full steam ahead this year, boiling down about 400 gallons of sap an hour. Their flat pan evaporators boil about 180 gallons an hour.

Their plan is to have another installed this year. Their target is 75,000 gallons, but now it’s up to the trees.

“It’s a challenge for sure on a system this big,” said Glenn.

“We are hoping for a good season. We are always hoping for a good season, a lot of praying goes on this time of year with sugar-makers,” said Ruth.

They say right now, one of the biggest hitches is the supply chain, specifically with containers for the syrup, as well as parts.

Glenn says they even ran into what could have been a large problem but ended up having a sweet ending.

“Early season we had a vacuum pump kind of destroy itself. Another very good sugar-maker Tom and Cecile Brandon and family let us use a spare vacuum pump. They had to fill the void that was created and that’s huge, no other industry would do that. We would look at each other as competitors, but we don’t do that. We look at each other as comrades in a similar business,” said Glenn.

The Goodriches say they hope to pay it forward this year and assist other sugarers as they need it.

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