When wildfires rage and air quality warnings are issued due to smoke, the primary concern is often human health. However, the implications of such events extend beyond our well-being, as they can significantly affect agricultural crops like corn and soybeans. The smoke’s presence reduces light availability and increases “Ground-level ozone,” which can have profound consequences for plant health and production. Let’s explore how the haze from the smoke impacts crops, both negatively and positively, and evaluate the overall effect on agriculture in our region.
Wildfires and Crop Health:
Corn and soybean plants, resembling vast fields of tiny solar panels, are vulnerable to smoke-related challenges. When smoke particles obstruct sunlight on its way to these “solar panels,” plant health and productivity suffer. The smoke haze can leave lasting effects, as it permeates the plants through their leaves, causing lingering consequences even after the haze dissipates.
A Silver Lining:
Amidst the doom and gloom, there are potential benefits to consider. While smoke reduces overall sunlight, it can also scatter the light, allowing it to penetrate deeper into the crop canopy. This phenomenon results in increased production in lower parts of the plants. Furthermore, reduced sunlight helps lower the leaf surface temperature, providing relief to areas under stress from drought conditions.
A Balanced Outlook:
Taking all factors into account, the impact of smoke from the Canadian wildfires may not have a significant effect on agriculture in our area. Farmers are accustomed to facing various challenges and uncertainties when relying on Mother Nature and the environment to provide for their families. While the smoke’s consequences on crops require attention, local agricultural practices and resilience will play a vital role in mitigating potential adverse effects.
Farm & Crop Risk Advisor
Dan Quinn, “How does Wildfire Smoke Impact Corn Growth?”, July 11, 2023, accessed July 17, 2023, https://ag.purdue.edu/news/department/agronomy/kernel-news/2023/07/2023-corn-wildfire-smoke.html
Andy Londo, Alexander Lindsey, Laura Lindsey, Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Wanderson Novais, “Smoke from Wildfires Affecting Ohio Agriculture? Or Some Other Stressors?”, 2022-2023, accessed July 17, 2023, https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2023-22/smoke-wildfires-affecting-ohio-agriculture-or-some-other