UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

Crop Resources

Assessing Ag Losses

UCCE Sonoma County Advisors are available to help you assess agricultural losses due to the fires. For more information, call our office 707-565-2621 or email:
Assistance programs: Grants & Loans

CropMobster
Resources for Fire 
anyone from anywhere can post any needs OR offers of help of any kind. 10/2017 

Crop Loss Reporting

Sonoma County Department of Agriculture is asking property owners report potential damage and/or loss sustained during the fires in October. 
 
This information will be used to compile a damage assessment report for Sonoma County in order to qualify Sonoma County for federal assistance.
 
Return completed forms to: sonomaag@sonoma-county.org

2017 Fire Damage Assessment

Viticulture

October, 2017. Photo by Mary Halasz
October, 2017. Photo by Mary Halasz
Estimates are that close to 90% of the grapes were picked (statewide) although this number may vary depending on the location. That means that only a small percentage of the 2017 grape harvest may be potentially impacted by the wildfires and smoke. 

Grapevines are very resilient and do not burn easily. In many cases the vineyards are acting like fire breaks and are likely playing a role in the fact that only a limited amount of wineries have been destroyed or significantly damaged in the fires surrounding them. We expect that the grapevines will recover fully if they did not actually burn, although yield may be impacted. 

Produce Exposed to Smoke

Air quality in Sonoma County has been significantly impacted by the ongoing fires in the region. Local farms have played a very large and important role in food relief efforts immediately following the start of the fires and the mass evacuations. Many farmers and others in the community are concerned about how the air pollution might be impacting produce. While the University of California does not have data on the levels of these chemicals in produce that have been in contact with smoke and ash, we understand the need to share information with our community at this time. 

Crop Resources
When assessing the safety of exposed produce, the difficulty is knowing what has been burning. If it is just vegetation smoke then it’s probably safe to eat produce after rinsing off the ash (just the same as having a bonfire in your garden), although it might still taste/smell smoky.

If the air pollution has particulate matter from treated timber, tires, non-food grade oils, or anything plastic or chlorinated that burned it may include a mixture of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and metals.  Exposure to fire retardant may have also occurred. 

An unpublished literature review on the health impacts of PAHs from traffic-related air pollution on lettuce grown in urban agriculture found that:

  • Some PAHs can be absorbed into plant tissue, and so cannot be simply washed off. 
  • The health risk from eating these PAHs is a small proportion of the health impact from breathing them, and it is far below the EPA’s level of concern for lifetime cancer risk. 
  • It is possible that the health benefit of eating the vitamins and nutrients in green leafy vegetables might outweigh that negligible negative impact. 
  • There is not enough research available on the cumulative impacts of air pollution on produce to make any solid conclusions about the health impacts. 

Fires & Food Safety flyer by USDA FSIS, 2/2013. 

Food Safety after Fire by USDA FSIS, 8/2013.

Page Last Updated: November 9, 2017

University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
Office Hours:  M-F, 8am-Noon & 1pm-4pm

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