Agronomist sees positives as smoke from western wildfires moves over Northern Plains and Upper Midwest

Crop farmers from the Northern Great Plains to Upper Midwest are wondering about the impact of smoke from wildfires out west.

Peterson Farms Seed agronomist Rick Swenson says several of their weather stations set up to study white mold feature solar radiation sensors that have unintentionally measured the impact…

“When we looked at the 4th of July we were 92 degrees, and it was crystal clear and hot, almost oppressive. When we jumped forward to (July) 11th, 12th, 13th, we actually had about a 20 percent reduction in solar radiation compared to the 4th just by having that smoke in there.”

He tells Brownfield because it’s so dry the smoke seems to be helping the plants more than hurting them.

“A lot of clouds or smoke in the air can actually lengthen out the growing season and impact soybean maturities a little bit and even hold onto a little bit more moisture in the corn too.”

Swenson says the impact probably won’t be significant because plants can only utilize about half the sun’s radiation, but over a prolonged period of time it can add up.

Peterson Farms Seed is based near Fargo and serves growers in the Dakotas and Minnesota.

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