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Every spring, the farmers of the Ottawa Valley turn maple sap into liquid gold – but this year, the pandemic has hurt their tourism income, and unusually warm temperatures have hurt their yields

Robert Hupé owns Maple Country Sugar Bush in Quadeville, Ont., about a two-hour drive west of Ottawa.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Hupé’s operation has 22,000 taps in 18,000 sugar maple trees. Each season, their average output of maple syrup is 5,300 gallons.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Last spring, with tourism shut down by the pandemic, Mr. Hupé had to sell some of his product to a wholesale market. He's doing that again this season.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Steam and smoke rise from a shack at the Trebbien sugar bush in the Ottawa Valley.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Tom Jackson stands in the sugar bush with the sap buckets he's collected.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Syrup is poured from the boiling pan. Long before settlers came to Canada, Indigenous people had their own techniques for refining the raw maple sap into a more concentrated liquid or solid form.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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The boiling can take hours. Here, Tom Jackson prepares firewood for the process.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Kim Jackson stokes the fire while the syrup is boiled down.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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As the sap is refined into syrup, a foam accumulates on top of the boiling pan and is skimmed off and discarded. The Jacksons' dogs, Poppy and Bella, are always quick to lick the sweet foam off a post at the edge of the pan.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Tom Jackson pours syrup into a jug. To qualify as maple syrup in Ontario, the product has to have a sugar content of at least 66 per cent.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Jackson Franchetto of Seed and Stone Farmstead in Rockingham, Ont., tests the contents of one of his buckets. He and his wife have a dream to create a small café and pancake house on the property within five years, with ski trails and a sugar shack.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Jackson and Blakeney Franchetto spend time with family in the warm spring sun. Mr. Franchetto says the syrup season has been tough due to warm weather. His small farm won’t have much left over to sell at local farmers' markets, but he and his wife should be able to supply their regulars, such as their immediate family and friends.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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On the Seed and Stone Farmstead, helper Taryn McKenna, gathers some of the 400 sap pails in the sugar bush before they're carried back by a team of horses.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Elsewhere in Rockingham, Raene and Alex Davies own the Spring to Life Farm, a medium-sized sugar bush with 2,500 taps.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Morley Hass has been making syrup at his Ottawa Valley farm for more than 30 years. He admits this year has been a tough run with the varying hot weather, but feels he will have enough to fulfill his orders for family and friends.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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Jackson Franchetto heads home with a wagon full of sap in tow.David Jackson/The Globe and Mail

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