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Getting to know your neighbor: Ploetz’s maple syrup farm is keeping up with the times in Springville

COME ON IN — The Ploetz maple syrup farm is located at 12955 Dowd Road in Springville. Photos by Leo Mrugala.
SPRINGVILLE — Ploetz Maple Syrup Farm, located on Dowd Road in Springville, is now in its 15th year of operation.
Ryan Ploetz has been making maple syrup since he was in the fifth grade and has grown his operation to include a sugar house, equipped with all the necessary tools to produce maple syrup.

“There is a lot of work that goes into running a maple syrup farm,” Ploetz said. “With all the prep work and safety precautions that have to be taken, there can be some long days, out on the farm.”

THE SWEET THINGS — Ryan Ploetz has brought maple sugar-making to his Springville dairy farm.
Ploetz uses diesel fuel to heat his maple syrup. While wood-burning was traditionally the most common way to heat it, Ploetz said he believes diesel fuel is more cost-effective, for his business. “Wood used to be the way to go, as far as heating was concerned, but I think that’s changed, for the type of evaporator I have now,” he said. “Obviously, diesel fuel is not cheap, by any means, but I never have to worry about running out of it. Also, with the new [reverse osmosis] machine I purchased, I’m saving nearly $100 on fuel, for each hour that I boil.”

That reverse osmosis machine is used to separate the sugar in the sap and allows sap to be boiled at 7 percent sugar content. With this method, 13 gallons of sap make 1 gallon of syrup, instead of nature’s way, which requires 40 gallons of sap, per gallon of syrup. “If I’m able to reach my goal of producing 1,500 gallons of syrup this year then this machine will end up saving me a lot of time and money, in the long run,” Ploetz said.

The farm’s evaporator can produce approximately 15 gallons of syrup, per hour.

Ploetz said that he thinks he will gather approximately 60,000 gallons of sap, for the year. He uses buckets and tubing, to collect the sap.

Although this endeavor began as a hobby for Ploetz, he said that it is now more than just a fun activity, for him. “The process is always going to be enjoyable from the standpoint that you’re producing your own maple syrup, for others,” he said. “There is so much time and money that goes into everything that you really want, to make sure that you’re doing what’s best for your operation, as a whole.”

Ploetz did not take part in Maple Weekend this year, but said that he will be ready to join next year’s festivities.

“Next year will be our first year that we’ll take part,” he said. “I want everything to be perfect, for when we take part in Maple Weekend, and I still think we’re a year away. We still need to make some minor adjustments, but we’re getting there.”

Ploetz said that getting into the maple syrup business is not an easy thing to do and credited the help he has received, along the way.

The farmer said that he would not be where he is today, if it was not for assistance from the people around him. “There are so many people that I’d like to thank, for helping me out, to get to this point,” he said. “A lot of the local maple syrup producers have helped me in the past and I thank them for everything. Also, I want to thank my family and friends, who have been there every step of the way, for me. They have helped me out so many times and I’m not sure where I would be, without their support.”

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