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Fire Update: Harvests continue under poor conditions

Winds from the north are combining with the marine layer to trap smoke in much of the Salinas Valley.

Harvest crews in the Salinas, CA, area have dealt with poor weather conditions for a month, but they continue to work under smoky skies.

Growers have to deal with falling ash again, which affects some quality, although ash presents no food safety issue.

It can be difficult for harvest crews to remove ash from leaves while field packing, but consumers can usually wash off excess ash, which presents no food safety risk.

Markon Cooperative, BB #:123315 Salinas, sent this alert to customers late September 9:

Over 2.1 million acres of California now have active wildfires burning on them. Combined with fires burning in Oregon and Washington, there is a tremendous amount of smoke hanging over California.

The current north by northeast winds are combining the marine layer with the smoke, creating an eerie, smoky, and dark orange sky across the entire Salinas Valley.

Light ash is again falling to the floor of the Salinas Valley, creating another build up of ash across vegetable and fruit crops.

Some harvesting crews need to work with lights for safety reasons as well as to help the crew members have a better view of the crops. Harvesting delays may occur if conditions force crews to halt production due to health concerns.

Markon inspectors are working with suppliers to determine if ash levels will necessitate packing Markon Best Available (MBA) due to ash on and in the plants.

Earlier this week Markon projected lighter supplies of many leaf and lettuce varieties and quality issues would lead to lower volume and higher prices.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services