Farmers feeling effects of drought, freeze, smoke |

Farmers feeling effects of drought, freeze, smoke

Mother Nature is wreaking havoc with area farmers this year: a drought, a freeze and now smoke from wildfires.

The smoke from the recent wildfires could briefly delay harvest of some crops – though only for a few days – officials said.

“It could stunt some growth,” said county agriculture commissioner Jeff Pylman, referring to the poor air quality and smoky skies.

Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to ozone reduces crop yields. Rising levels of ozone likely lower the yield of important world food crops, such as wheat and soybeans, University of Massachusetts researcher William Manning observed in a report last month.

“Plants are much more sensitive to ozone than people, and a slight increase in exposure can have a large impact on their productivity,” said a statement from Manning, who recently studied the problem in China.

In Nevada County, freeze and drought are the biggest concerns.

The estimated damage to fruits, vegetables, wine grapes and irrigated pasture from the mid-April freeze was estimated at $1.8 million, Pylman said Monday. The estimated damage from the drought on un-irrigated rangeland is estimated at $726,000.

County officials filed the crop damage reports with the Office of Emergency Services last month. Pylman remained hopeful that relief money would be available to help farmers.

Farmers, meanwhile, hope to get a boost in business with the newly released Nevada County Farm Guide.

The guide is a comprehensive resource to growers and producers in the county.

“We have more farmers’ and growers’ markets, and they are bigger and better than ever before,” the farm guide reads, referring to markets at the Fairgrounds, in Grass Valley and in Nevada City, among other places. “The neighborhood garden network is back, growing food and community.”

The farm guide is produced by Nevada County Grown, a nonprofit marketing support group created to promote growers and producers in the county.

To contact Editor Jeff Pelline, e-mail or call 477-4235.

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