The Packer's Tom Karst visited Sept. 16 with Shay Myers, CEO of Parma, Idaho-based Owyhee Produce.
A significant amount of soot and particulates were in the air Sept. 16, Myers said. To put it in perspective the region’s visibility is typically 12 miles to nearly unlimited.
“However, right now we’re talking a mile a quarter of a mile visibility in the morning when temperatures are lower, so it is a really thick haze, with the resemblance to something like fog except for it falls out of the sky and coats everything with a layer of ash.”
Nearest fires to Owyhee Produce were more than 100 miles away, he said, and he said skies have been hazy for going on ten days on Sept. 16.
Still-growing sweet potatoes have been slowed by hazy skies. In addition, onions now being cured in the field before they are collected to be put in storage, and Myers said the hazy skies and lower temperatures have slowed that process.
Smokey skies lowered temperatures on Sept. 16 to the low 60s, compared to normal temperatures in the mid-80s.
“With the lack of sunshine, and with the significantly lower temperatures, we are not getting the normal drying action for onions that we would like to see this time of year,” he siad.
Myers estimated that perhaps 5% of the onions are harvested and under cover in the Treasure Valley of Idaho-eastern Oregon, which is close to normal. “Normally right now this would be our first heavy week,” he said But further delays caused by hazy skies could slow the process of drying the onions and putting them safely under cover, he said.