Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Sunday, March 18, 2012

One Season Ends, Another Begins

As the maple syrup season dries up, the next season begins:  we’re gearing up to garden.  Friday we hauled in three loads of alpaca manure from our friends at Foggy Bottom Farms, just up the road.  Saturday found us running circles around the garden with the tractor, using the blade in the back to spread nutrient-rich fertilizer evenly around the whole garden, sort of like an alpaca poop Zamboni.  Normally, we’d let the manure mellow on the ground and compost for a few weeks, until we were sure we’d seen the last of the snow & freezing temperatures.  But having missed out on the bulk of the maple syrup season this year, we are taking no chances with the garden.  So today we put the main irrigation line in place and hooked up our first twelve rows of drip tape.  Then today, March 18, we started planting the garden.  Did we mention that it’s March 18 in Minnesota, and we’re planting?  But it was also 80 degrees today, so we decided to be optimistic and plant most of our cold-weather, early-season crops:  two rows of spinach, two of radishes, two of leaf lettuce and one of iceberg lettuce. 
We’re also experimenting with two rows of onion seeds this year, since the frost is out of the ground so early.  Normally we buy small onion plants which have been grown from seed in a greenhouse.  We could also buy onion “sets,” which are small onion bulbs that were produced last growing season; sets are cheaper, but the onions don’t grow as big.  Onions respond to the change in daylight and completely stop growing when the days start getting shorter.  So plants give us a jump on the short onion growing season.  We’ve already ordered ours for the year, so if our little seed experiment doesn’t work, we won’t be crying about it.  At least not until we dice up our first pungent fully-grown onion! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We're Boiling, But Just Barely

Today was the first maple syrup boil of our maple syrup season.  And likely the last.  At least it was a vigorous, rolling boil!  Murphy’s Law of Agriculture, Kopp Corollary:  “In the first year that your operation has a waiting list of maple syrup customers, the weather will take a turn for the wacky and dry up production. Literally and nearly completely.”

It’s not the dry winter that has thwarted our season.  If anything, the lack of moisture this winter should have resulted in sap with less liquid and a higher concentration of sugar, making it faster to boil.  No, it was the temperature that did us in.  When the days are above freezing, the sap rises up the trunk of the tree.  Freezing nights drive it back down to the roots.  Like it’s riding a little temperature-controlled sap elevator.  But if the nights aren’t cool enough, the sap stays up in the branches, and the “run” is over until next season.  Please note the weather report in Minnesota for the upcoming week:  highs in the sixties & seventies, lows well above freezing.  Bye, bye sap…have fun in the tree tops!  There's a small chance that the snow cover and shade deeper in the woods is keeping temperatures low enough to delay the sap run.  We might eke out a few more gallons.  But we’re not holding our breath.
Of course, this doesn’t explain why we’ve only collected a paltry 30 gallons of sap (that is, less than a gallon of syrup) in the past week, when the forecast should have been perfect for vertical sap travel.  Our hypothesis is that the syrup actually started moving during the unseasonably warm week we had in February, and stayed up in the branches.  And to think, we came this close to tapping our trees that week.  But ultimately we decided that February was too early to tap.  Now, does anybody know where we can pick up a meteorological crystal ball for next syrup season? 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bye, Bye Bacteria

The syrup season is underway, but only after a great deal of careful preparation.  After the sugar shack construction, our next chore was to banish the bacteria from our equipment.  Now, before you let loose with an “ewwww… gross,” let’s be clear.  Our maple sap boils at 212 degrees for a minimum of 5 hours, and then the syrup finishes at 219 degrees.  So any bacteria that sneak into the sap are long gone by the time we bottle up our liquid gold. 
Besides, the bacteria we’re fighting isn’t harmful to people.  However, it is hungry. Ravenously hungry.  The bacteria eat up some of the precious sugar in the sap, and there’s a surprisingly low level of sugar in maple sap to begin with.  It doesn’t even taste sweet, straight out of the tree.  Which is why the normal ratio of sap to syrup is 40 to 1: forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  But a batch that’s fallen victim to hungry, sugar-slurping bacteria will take even more sap to create the same amount of syrup.  So it behooves us to be diligent in the cleanliness of our equipment.  We boiled all our aluminum taps for several minutes on the kitchen stove, a technique perfected over the past few years of sanitizing new baby bottles & pacifiers.  Then our buckets all got a bath in bleach to ensure squeaky-cleanness… all one hundred of them.  Wash.  Rinse. Rinse again.  Third rinse is a charm.  Repeat ninety-nine times.  Collapse.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tap, Tap, Tap… The Sound of the Start of the Syrup Season

Tap, tap, tap… the sound of impatiently drumming fingers on the table as we wait for the right time to tap the trees.  Tap too early, and the tap holes might close up before the peak of the sap run.  Tap too late, and the season is over before it even gets started.
Tap, tap, tap… the sound of a test run of the new boiling stove setup.  You can’t really call it a “dry” run, but maybe a “sugar free” one.  We fired up the stove to make sure the flame was efficient and that the stove would boil hot enough.  Then we loaded water into the sap storage tank to test the flow into the boiling pan.  Tap, tssss, tap, tssss… the sizzle of water hitting a hot boiling pan.  But when we lowered the hood onto the pan to check for a snug fit, we discovered that one corner of the stove had sunk a little.  Tap, tap, tap…wedging a wooden shim under the northeast corner of the stove, to once again make it nice & level so the sap boils evenly.
Tap, tap, tap… yesterday’s sound of taps being hammered into the south (sunny) side of 100 trees in the Kopp’s Crops woods.  Well, technically it started with a “whirrrrr”, as we drilled inch-and-a-half-deep holes into the tree trunks before tapping the taps in place with a hammer. 
Tap, tap tap… the sound of the first drops of sap dropping in the bucket.  The buckets on the southeast side of the woods get the most sun, so two days into the season the sap is rat-tat-tatting at a pretty fast clip already.  Deeper in the woods, it’s more of a tap… wait for it… wait for it… tap!
Tap, tap, tap…the sound of impatiently drumming fingers on the table as we eagerly await the first boil of the season!