Wildfire haze has limited sunlight during crop development

Smoke from Canadian wildfires continues to impact air quality in parts of the country and some farmers in Ohio are concerned it might impact their crops.  Because the winds are out of the north to northeast, particulate matter has been especially heavy in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the Mid-Atlantic. 

Northwest Ohio farmer Nathan Eckel tells Brownfield the lack of sunlight, due to the hazy skies, has likely slowed crop development. “We talk about GDUS in corn and soybeans, and I think we don’t get that penetrating sunlight for photosynthesis,” he says. “You know, if you look at these corn plants down here, you’ll see a lot of purple, purple in the stems and in the leaves. We’re just not getting that direct sunlight.”

Jeff Magyar, who farms in northeast Ohio, says the wildfires have been limiting sunlight in his area as well.  “But, it is keeping our heat down a little bit, which with this lack of moisture is probably a good thing,” he says. 

Bill Bayliss, who farms in central Ohio, says he’s optimistic it will provide some benefit to the crop.  “My son-in-law has a theory that we’re getting sulfur out of that,” he says.  “Which when we lost all the old coal-burning furnaces around the country, all of a sudden we started needing more sulfur, so maybe we’re going to need to spray sulfur on this year.”

All three farmers participated in Brownfield’s Cab Conversations on Wednesday.  They say it is still too early to tell if the smoke will have a positive or negative impact on their crops.

Ohio farmer Nathan Eckel provided this photo from his drone and after several days of haze, conditions have improved greatly.

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