Historic wildfire season taking toll on California agriculture

Wildfires have engulfed headlines in the nation and producers from all ag sectors in California are feeling the impact.

According to Cal Fire, 2020 has been the worst fire season on record and has left many producers disappointed.

Dave Kranz with the California Farm Bureau says that a lot of grazing land and cattle were both lost to the fires.

“The fires have burned mainly in wildlands and timber country. As a result of that, there’s been a lot of loss of range and pastureland, and several hundred head of cattle that were grazing in some of those wildlands and range areas,” Kranz said. “We don’t have a good handle yet on the total damage losses or estimates. It’ll take a while, in part, because many of the fires are still burning and it takes a while for people to get in after the fires have been extinguished and get a true assessment.”

The California wine industry is taking quite a bit of damage from wildfires. However, fires are not the only thing grape growers have to worry about.

“The smoke, because of how widespread it is, also has implications for agriculture many miles away from the fires themselves, because of the air quality,” Kranz said. “We’ve heard from raisin farmers in the Central Valley of California who have said they lay grapes out in their orchards to dry naturally via the sun and so they count on the unfiltered sun to dry those grapes.”

Because of the hazy conditions caused by the wildfires, it has taken in some cases an extra 10 days to two weeks to dry those raisins which makes them vulnerable to early season rain or other concerns.

USDA meteorologist on California’s record wildfire season.

Mother Nature and cattle may help tame the West Coast Wildfires.

California farmers left to battle wildfires on their own.