By September’s end, Oregon and California will have experienced more than 6,614 fires in 2017, burning 274,936 collective acres. And that’s only this year’s blazes through Oct. 1. In 2016, Oregon lost 186,317 acres to wildfires, its lowest yearly total since 2010. In 2012, more than one million acres were ravaged by flames — and California didn’t fare much better.
These fires destroy much of Oregon and California’s countryside and forests, which presents a significant concern to outdoor cannabis farmers.
Outdoor marijuana growers, particularly those in Southern Oregon and the Emerald Triangle, are concerned about the fires’ far-reaching effects on their crops. While there’s the obvious threat of fire destroying everything in its path, a surprising concern is the concealed sunlight due to the smoky haze.
In September, Brent Kenyon, veteran grower and owner of Oregon Cannabis Farms in Eagle Point, told OregonLive the smoke creates a “plastic layer” that suffocates the nearly mature plants. This lack of UV light can result in a smaller, less potent product — particularly in the critical end-of-summer flowering period. Furthermore, ashy smoke can contaminate the water supply, and while ash itself isn’t necessarily harmful to crops, fires have the potential to change farmer’s fields and yields drastically.
Oregon’s Outdoor Cannabis Industry
Outdoor-grown marijuana has its pros and cons, according to many long-time cultivators. Jeremy Moberg, president of the Washington Sun Growers Industry Association and the Okanogan Cannabis Association, told Ganjapreneur that outdoor crops have no climate control costs and a limitless light source, thanks to the sun. Outdoor farms are less expensive, and as some would argue, a more “natural” method of cannabis cultivation — grown as nature intended.
However, many growers find issue with the lack of control they have over a wild climate, which often results in limited annual harvests as