Just a few years ago, the Hering family of Waterville, Minn. was notable in the industry for being one of the biggest operations in the U.S. still using buckets.
The Hering family has been cooking in Waterville since the late 1800s.
On their farm and in neighboring woods, a crew of 15 family members including Ward, Terry, Trent, Tanner and Tyler Hering were collecting sap from more than 15,000 buckets, taking them days to collect per run.
“We would typically collect about 5,500 buckets a day,” said Tyler Hering during a tour for The Maple News on March 29.
Everything is different now.
Beginning about three years ago, the Herings began a rapid expansion and upgrade to their operation, most notably dumping the buckets for good.
The Herings are now operating off of 30,000 taps, all on a modern wet-dry pipeline system on high vacuum.
“We’ve doubled our volume,” said Trent Hering.
Collection now mainly consists of running a giant semi-trailer with a 3,000 gallon tank to their woods about 30 minutes away from the sugarhouse.
During a good run like the one the family was enjoying on March 29, they collect upwards of four times per day filling that tanker.
The family has also opened a new D&G corporate store, drawing customers from all over Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. At an open house earlier this year, the Herings had 1,800 sugarmakers during the two-day event.
Their syrup business is thriving and the family says that all of the product stays within the state.
“We keep it all in Minnesota,” Trent Hering said.
The enthusiasm and pride the family has in sugarmaking is evident. Lots of smiling Herings during our visit.
“We like doing it and there is a lot of demand for syrup,” Tanner Hering said.