Sep 13 2020

Edible Plants and Wildfire Smoke

– Taste and Productivity of Local Garden Produce Suffers in Our Wildfire Smoke –

“Once the air clears of smoke, spray the leaves and fruit gently with water and apply fertilizer to promote healthy roots and foliage.”

Commentary from Oregon:

“Similar to humans, plants are affected by fine particles in smoke that consist of ash, partially consumed fuel, water droplets and hundreds of chemical compounds, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and small amounts of nitrogen oxide. These particles can clog the plant’s stomata, tiny pores that enable the plant to absorb carbon dioxide and other gases from the atmosphere and release oxygen. Prolonged blockage can suffocate the plant.

In addition, studies have shown that even short-term exposure to smoke destroys chlorophyll in plants and, thus, reduces their ability to carry out photosynthesis by as much as 50 percent. The result is oxygen-deprived plants that are stressed, weakened, and may look wilted and washed out. Once the plant has switched to survival mode, fruiting and ripening slows down, which may be why my friend said her corn crop yield was “puny” two years ago when smoke hung in the valley for several weeks. Prolonged exposure to smoke may also affect the taste of garden produce.”  The Mail Tribune, Oregon, Aug 9, 2015

Science News December 21, 2018 reported:

A pioneering new study by Professor Nadine Unger of the University of Exeter and Professor Xu Yue of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Beijing, has revealed that pollutants released by the devastating wildfires can affect crop and vegetation growth hundreds of kilometres from the fire impact zone.

The study examined how ozone and aerosols — two by-product pollutants of wildfires — influences healthy plant growth in areas that are seemingly unaffected by the destructive natural disasters.

It found that there was a significant reduction in plant productivity in areas far away from the fire’s borders. The study suggests that fire pollution could pose an increasing threat to regional, and even global, productivity in the warming future world.

One Response to “Edible Plants and Wildfire Smoke”

  1. Thank you for publishing this timely information.

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