2017-04-06 / Front Page

600 Gallons of Maple Sap Per Hour

With Thousands of Taps, New Technology, EUP Sugar Bushes Show Growth From Their Earlier Years


Maple sugar producers in the Eastern U.P. welcomed the public to tour their operations last weekend, including Tassier Sugar Bush, Michigan Maple Farms, Besteman’s Maple Products, and Postma Brothers Maple Syrup. The industry is growing in this area. Above, the youngest of four sons, Marshall Besteman (center) explains the evolution of their family’s syrup production to a group of visitors Saturday, April 1. His father, Marvin Besteman, started Besteman’s Maple Products in Rudyard in 1957 as a Future Farmers of America project while he was still in high school. Since then, the family business has grown to an 11,000-tap maple farm that can process 600 gallons of maple sap per hour. Maple sugar producers in the Eastern U.P. welcomed the public to tour their operations last weekend, including Tassier Sugar Bush, Michigan Maple Farms, Besteman’s Maple Products, and Postma Brothers Maple Syrup. The industry is growing in this area. Above, the youngest of four sons, Marshall Besteman (center) explains the evolution of their family’s syrup production to a group of visitors Saturday, April 1. His father, Marvin Besteman, started Besteman’s Maple Products in Rudyard in 1957 as a Future Farmers of America project while he was still in high school. Since then, the family business has grown to an 11,000-tap maple farm that can process 600 gallons of maple sap per hour.

Kevin Postma shows the records dating back to 1949 of the family’s maple production. The rough sawn planks show the dates of first and last boil. This season marks only the second time in more than 60 years that the Postmas have boiled sap in the month February. They also boiled in February 1998. Also on display were tools used for tapping trees, and a map of the family’s maple farm. Kevin Postma shows the records dating back to 1949 of the family’s maple production. The rough sawn planks show the dates of first and last boil. This season marks only the second time in more than 60 years that the Postmas have boiled sap in the month February. They also boiled in February 1998. Also on display were tools used for tapping trees, and a map of the family’s maple farm.

The Postma family outside the sugar shack (from left) Paige Postma, Jodie Postma, Kyle Postma (front), Kevin Postma, Joe Hadfield, Jan Hadfield, Greg Postma, Joy Butcher, Cory Butcher, Chris Hadfield, Joey Hadfield, Judson Postma, and Christina Postma. The Postma family outside the sugar shack (from left) Paige Postma, Jodie Postma, Kyle Postma (front), Kevin Postma, Joe Hadfield, Jan Hadfield, Greg Postma, Joy Butcher, Cory Butcher, Chris Hadfield, Joey Hadfield, Judson Postma, and Christina Postma.

Father-in-law of Kevin Postma, Richard Lovegrove tends to the fire as the evaporator processes raw sap into maple syrup Saturday, April 1. Firewood must be added to the furnace frequently to ensure the sap continues to boil. Father-in-law of Kevin Postma, Richard Lovegrove tends to the fire as the evaporator processes raw sap into maple syrup Saturday, April 1. Firewood must be added to the furnace frequently to ensure the sap continues to boil.

At left: Owner and operator Dan Tassier (left) explains the process for turning maple sap into syrup to a group of visitors who came out to see the facilities during Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend Saturday, April 1. Deb Tassier said Tassier Sugar Bush is located on limestone bedrock that, in her opinion, gives the syrup a clean, fresh flavor. At left: Owner and operator Dan Tassier (left) explains the process for turning maple sap into syrup to a group of visitors who came out to see the facilities during Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend Saturday, April 1. Deb Tassier said Tassier Sugar Bush is located on limestone bedrock that, in her opinion, gives the syrup a clean, fresh flavor.

Michigan Maple Farms of Rudyard owner Mike Ross tends to the evaporator. He said that his operation has installed a digital monitoring system for the lines that run between each tap. This new system, now installed on more than two-thirds of the 70-acre maple farm, has reduced labor costs while increasing production by as much as 30%. Michigan Maple Farms of Rudyard owner Mike Ross tends to the evaporator. He said that his operation has installed a digital monitoring system for the lines that run between each tap. This new system, now installed on more than two-thirds of the 70-acre maple farm, has reduced labor costs while increasing production by as much as 30%.

At left: Daughter Emily DeYoung (left), father Mike Ross, and daughter Rachel Ross all work at Michigan Maple Farms together. The operation has grown from a handful of maple trees in the Ross’ backyard to one of the largest sugar bushes in the state. At left: Daughter Emily DeYoung (left), father Mike Ross, and daughter Rachel Ross all work at Michigan Maple Farms together. The operation has grown from a handful of maple trees in the Ross’ backyard to one of the largest sugar bushes in the state.

Deb and Dan Tassier inside their sugar shack at Tassier Sugar Bush in Cedarville. Maple sap was running really well, according to Mrs. Tassier, with more than 500 gallons of sap produced Saturday, April 1. Given the current sugar levels, it would take about 60 to 70 gallons of raw sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. Deb and Dan Tassier inside their sugar shack at Tassier Sugar Bush in Cedarville. Maple sap was running really well, according to Mrs. Tassier, with more than 500 gallons of sap produced Saturday, April 1. Given the current sugar levels, it would take about 60 to 70 gallons of raw sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup.

Three generations of the Besteman family were on hand to help during Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend. Rudyard High School freshman Jared (left), father Marshall, and grandfather Marvin Besteman outside the storage facility for raw maple sap. The sap is kept inside while it waits to be processed through their system to avoid sunlight that would spoil the product. Marshall Besteman’s brother, Dean, compared the perishability of sap to milk. Three generations of the Besteman family were on hand to help during Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend. Rudyard High School freshman Jared (left), father Marshall, and grandfather Marvin Besteman outside the storage facility for raw maple sap. The sap is kept inside while it waits to be processed through their system to avoid sunlight that would spoil the product. Marshall Besteman’s brother, Dean, compared the perishability of sap to milk.

Rachel Ross, daughter of owner Mike Ross, checks the boiling system. Michigan Maple Farms is one of the largest sugar bushes in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and Mr. Ross said he is always working to raise awareness of the state’s maple syrup industry to encourage new producers. Michigan Maple Farms is also the Michigan representative for CDL Maple Sugaring Equipment through which they maintain a close working relationship with every other sugar bush in the region. Rachel Ross, daughter of owner Mike Ross, checks the boiling system. Michigan Maple Farms is one of the largest sugar bushes in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and Mr. Ross said he is always working to raise awareness of the state’s maple syrup industry to encourage new producers. Michigan Maple Farms is also the Michigan representative for CDL Maple Sugaring Equipment through which they maintain a close working relationship with every other sugar bush in the region.

Tammy Start, daughter of Dan and Deb Tassier, greets visitors during Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend at Tassier Sugar Bush in Cedarville. A variety of treats were available to sample, including maple crispies, maple cookies, and cupcakes with maple frosting. Tammy Start, daughter of Dan and Deb Tassier, greets visitors during Michigan Maple Syrup Weekend at Tassier Sugar Bush in Cedarville. A variety of treats were available to sample, including maple crispies, maple cookies, and cupcakes with maple frosting.

Smoke billows out of the sugar shack at Besteman’s Maple Products during Michigan Maple Weekend Saturday, April 1. The 1,200-gallon tank in the foreground is used to transport raw maple sap from their farm to a storage building where it waits to be processed into maple syrup. Every area sugar bush, including Besteman’s, employs a reverse osmosis water treatment system to reduce the amount of water in the raw sap. This method allows maple syrup producers to cut the time required to produce a gallon of maple syrup in half. Smoke billows out of the sugar shack at Besteman’s Maple Products during Michigan Maple Weekend Saturday, April 1. The 1,200-gallon tank in the foreground is used to transport raw maple sap from their farm to a storage building where it waits to be processed into maple syrup. Every area sugar bush, including Besteman’s, employs a reverse osmosis water treatment system to reduce the amount of water in the raw sap. This method allows maple syrup producers to cut the time required to produce a gallon of maple syrup in half.

At left: Deb and Dan Tassier’s grandson Jack Marsh, 9, has been giving tours of the family’s sugar bush since he was only three years old. The structure behind him was the original sugar shack for Tassier Sugar Bush, used by his grandparents 29 years ago when they began production as hobbyists. These days, a series of tubing and two pump houses with vacuum technology collect syrup from more than 4,000 taps on their property. At left: Deb and Dan Tassier’s grandson Jack Marsh, 9, has been giving tours of the family’s sugar bush since he was only three years old. The structure behind him was the original sugar shack for Tassier Sugar Bush, used by his grandparents 29 years ago when they began production as hobbyists. These days, a series of tubing and two pump houses with vacuum technology collect syrup from more than 4,000 taps on their property.

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