Could 2020’s wildfires on the West Coast have contaminated the area’s hemp crop? A recent study conducted by FSOil aimed to find the truth.
FSOil is an industrial hemp extraction and processing facility that is located in Oregon. It shares a property with Iverson Family Farms, which has been growing hemp since 2016.
In 2020, the Beachie Creek Forest fire raged less than 10 miles away, bringing with it the concern of flames, ash, or smoke destroying the crop. Fortunately, the blaze did not reach the hemp, but the effects of ash and smoke were initially unclear.
“Wine grapes have been in the spotlight for years and hemp recently followed suit with concerns of possible contaminants being passed through smoke and ash,” FSOil explained in a news release.
“The California Department of Food and Agriculture developed guidelines for quantifying phenols affiliated with smoke taint with detection limits starting at 0.5 ppb,” it added.
The article explained that this research helped make it possible for wine grapes to be insured if they become unusable due to smoke taint, and FSOil wanted to “get ahead of the curve” when it came to protecting its assets.
“Helping people through quality of product and quality of life are what continue to guide our goals in the industry,” FSOil reported. “These objectives pushed us to work simultaneously with Universities, scientists, growers, and labs along the west coast by conducting internal research on possible impacts of these fires.”
The FSOil and Iverson Family Farms site was reportedly in a stage 3 evacuation for 10 days in September due to the proximity of the Beachie Creek Fire. The Air quality Index (AQI) rating fluctuated between 300 and 500 each day during that time.
Samples and data were collected both during and after the fire. The testing aimed to find the effects of ash and smoke on the hemp oil quality. It addressed pesticides, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, smoke taint, and potency.
“[O]ur results show that hemp grown within as close as 8-10 miles of the Beachie Creek Forest fire remains safe,” FSOil reported. “We know this is something that is being reviewed and tested along the west coast and new data will arise based on what precisely burned in proximity to specific farms.”
According to Hemp Industry Daily, these results are consistent with a majority of the results seen by cannabis cultivators on the West Coast. Most growers in all three West Coast states have reportedly determined that their hemp crops were mostly spared from the negative effects of the fires. The article suggests that this is likely because the fires burned mostly vegetation, not chemical-laden structures.
Alexa Wall told Hemp Industry Daily that she knew of four farms in Sonoma that burned down, but the fears of fire-related contamination have not become reality for most of the area’s hemp farmers. Wall is an outdoor cannabis farmer and a board member of the Sonoma County Growers Alliance in Northern California.
Wall reportedly said, “For how big the fires were and how long they lasted and the scale of them, I think our industry came out pretty lucky.”