Massive wildfires burning up and down California and Oregon are unfortunately destroying hemp fields, along with massive amounts of properties — ultimately causing millions in financial losses.
Nearly 15,000 firefighters have been fighting just under 30 major ravaging wildfires from the Oregon border to just north of Mexico.
Smoke has also caused widespread damage to the most prominent vineyards in wine country north of San Francisco — and rose above scenic Big Sur on the Central Coast and in the foothills and mountains of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.
Burning Down Hemp and Cannabis Farms
The North Complex fire is the 10th largest on record and growing as firefighters try to corral it. The fires are submerging farms as hemp harvest has begun in several locations — and its demolishing the economic investments of farmers.
The wildfires have burned down several cannabis farms in Oregon and threatened even more in California and Washington state.
Woefully, farmers have had to modify their business models because of recurring wildfires on an annual basis — especially in California.
“We’ve already broken the record for most acres burned in history, and we haven’t even gotten to the worst part of the season. So, I think this is the new norm. Fires are just a way of life at this point,” stated David Najera, a marijuana cultivation consultant and farmer in Mendocino County, California.
What’s at Stake for the Hemp Industry?
Hemp plants, like all varieties of cannabis plants, are particularly susceptible to smoke taint. Fires can destroy an entire crop. According to the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures (AWM), the county has 87 registered hemp farmers.
“Industrial hemp cultivators face the same climate-related risks that other agricultural operators in San Diego County face,” states Donna Durckel, Group Communications Officer of the Land Use & Environmental Group of AWM. She says, “These include an increase in average minimum and maximum temperatures along with overall temperature variability that affects crop yield, crop fertility, and crop quality. Reduced precipitation, decreased winter snowpack, and reduced groundwater storage are listed as potential climate-related ill effects.”
“Specific threats wildfires pose to hemp cultivation are not always obvious,” states Joshua Swider, Co-founder & CEO of Infinite Chemical Analysis Labs.
“Smoke alters the quality and taste of hemp, and ash particles from buildings could contaminate a grow with toxic chemicals. Arsenic, heavy metals, copper, lead, transformer fluid, brake fluid, fire suppressant or retardant — you don’t want to be breathing that stuff in and you definitely can’t have it in your medicine,” Swider further states.
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