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Maple syrup producers around Ottawa optimistic about 2016 season

Maple sugar shacks around Ottawa are optimistic that the 2016 season could be a good one.

'The long-range forecast looks great,' says one producer

Children enjoy maple candy at Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush on March 12, 2016. (Robyn Miller/CBC Ottawa)

For maple syrup producers in the national capital region, the recent spell of moderate weather seems to be right in their sweet spot.

"What every syrup producer wants is cold nights and warm days," said Scott Deugo, a fifth-generation syrup producer at Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush in Pakenham, Ont., about 60 kilometres west of Ottawa.

"So minus four or five at night, plus four or five in the day with some sun — that really gets the sap flowing. And the long-range forecast looks great."

Season began earlier elsewhere

Producers in other Canadian provinces, like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, began tapping their trees earlier than expected this year because of mild weather.

According to Environment Canada weather data for Ottawa, however, daytime highs here only began consistently cracking the 0 C mark last week — and that has local producers like Deugo optimistic about the 2016 season.

Saturday's sunny skies and warm weather meant the lineups at Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush in Pakenham, Ont., stretched out like a long piece of maple taffy. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Fulton's, which normally produces about 4,000 litres of maple syrup each year, has only been tapping their trees for "about three or four days," Deugo said on Saturday.

That meant hundreds of maple lovers showed up at the sugar shack for taffy and other confections this weekend.

"Oh, it's beautiful [here]," said Matt Burtch, who came from Smiths Falls with his five-year-old daughter. "It's telling me that spring is on the way." 

'Pretty good days so far'

While spring may be getting closer and closer, Francois Proulx of Proulx Sugar Bush and Berry Farm in Cumberland — which has about 1,000 maple trees — hopes it stays chilly overnight for a while longer.

"We've been having some pretty good days so far. The sap has been flowing really well, because basically you need a good frost at night and a good defrost during the day," Proulx said.

"Once the frost is finished, then it gets too warm. The season is over."

Maple syrup producer Scott Deugo says the long-term forecast in the Ottawa region is hitting the sweet spot. (CBC Ottawa)

Both Proulx and Deugo also agree that while the long-term regional forecast looks positive it's always difficult to make predictions about how long the trees will keep producing sap.

"I'll know how my season went, kind of, when it's over," said Deugo. "It's really hard to predict."

Maple candy setting in the snow at Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush in Pakenham, Ont. (Robyn Miller/CBC Ottawa)

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