ST. PAUL, OR (KPTV)- The hops are off vines at Coleman Agriculture in St. Paul and farmers are crossing their fingers that the heavy wildfire smoke won’t affect the quality of the crop.
“As for what happens for flavor or aroma, right now, our partners --our big hop distributors -- are doing testing and brewing and so far, we haven’t seen that big of an impact,” said President and CEO David Henze on Thursday. “We haven’t heard complaints that there’s a smoked beer.”
But it’s a concern –and point of curiosity – for Oregon’s hop and hemp industries. Both crops are harvested from late summer to early fall, often during the heart of wildfire season. This year, the smoke was terrible.
“The jury is still out on exactly what the impacts still are,” said Matt Cyrus, the owner of Triple C Farms in Cloverdale, just outside Sisters, in Central Oregon. “Nobody knows how bad and how much smoke it takes to affect yield.”
Cyrus farms 70 acres of hemp with his family and is involved in a new working group through Oregon State University, where scientists are studying the impacts of wildfire smoke on hemp.
“Whether or not the smoke particles on the hemp buds affect the flavor of smokable hemp or if it impacts the oil that is extracted from it,” Cyrus said.
It’s about both production and safety. While Cyrus isn’t concerned to much about his own crop, he wonders about hemp farms located next to more urban areas where homes and buildings burned.
It could result in toxic smoke contamination of their crops so it might not be suitable for consumption. Those areas are what universities studying,” Cyrus said.
What researchers find will help farmers adjust and evolve as they deal with wildfires seasons that only seem to be getting worse.
“Some of our facilities, we’re closing in more things, so they’re not open to the air,” Henze said.
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