Smoke, ash, heat and drought hurting Washington agriculture

August 4, 2021 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — It’s been a tough summer for agriculture across Washington state.

Crops like berries have struggled under record heat and drought. Now, some worry about how smoke in August could stunt the growth of some crops should the haze intensify and linger, KOMO-TV reported.

Jennifer Schuh has worked with her father Steve Schuh for decades in the Skagit Valley, growing everything from corn to berries, squash, cucumbers and pumpkins. She said a long stretch of thick smoke could hurt their crops.

Steve Schuh isn’t letting the potential of damaging smoke worry him, but he acknowledges that ash can block a plant access to light and food.

“They don’t function right if they’re all covered in smoke,” said Steve Schuh.

While smoke has stayed in the upper levels of the atmosphere in Western Washington this week, communities in Central and Eastern Washington have battled wildfires and bad air quality for weeks.


Some winemakers say smoke has not impacted their wine grapes so far, but it could get bad in August.

“They can get something called, ‘smoke taint,’” said Nick Bond, the Washington state climatologist. “That is especially a problem right before they’re harvested.”

Bond said wildfires could intensify in the next few weeks, posing a threat to agriculture around the region.