California wildfires have been paramount in the news as homes are destroyed, families displaced and acres of land reduced to smolder. As an agriculture issue, the weather is crucial for sustained production and that production is crucial for feeding millions of people both in California and around the world. Across a ravaged state, crops are lost both from burning and from the smoke and poor air quality impacting their growth cycle.
Not only does the smoke damage crops, its proliferation can cause delays in harvest when farm workers cannot breathe enough to harvest. Crops from avocados to wine grapes are in danger from wildfires. The smoke can also affect the taste and quality of the crops, bringing down the quality of the crops and their eventual final products.
This year there are concerns that wildfires could last until winter, further exacerbated by the warm, dry weather. With precipitation levels down across the state and humidity levels hovering around 1-2% there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution for managing the already burning areas until the cold weather and winter storms come south.
While we wait for the final numbers of crops lost and land damaged, we know that wine grapes are expected to be solid as the fires didn’t start until most of them had already been harvested, but other commodities won’t be so lucky as avocados and lemons have seen over 200 acres burned. So far, in 2019 three people have died, more than 6,402 fires have occurred and an estimated of 250,349 acres have burned as of November 3.
For now, we recommend that all commodity shippers stay informed with suppliers about how their current harvest is shaping up and to reach out to CFI if you need assistance.