Cannabis crops in California have gone up in smoke. In the deadliest wildfires California has ever seen, blazes burning out of control have destroyed several cannabis grows in the Sonoma County area.
“Apocalypse Now” for California Cannabis Crops
According to Sara Browne, cannabis market researcher, “It’s apocalypse now for two of Northern California’s legendary crops, wine and weed.” It is after all, the beginning of harvest season. A time of year countless cannabis farmers look forward to. For many, it is the income some growers will survive on for the entire year.
What’s more is pot growers (even legal pot growers) typically don’t have insurance on their crops. As weed might be to produce and sell in California, it’s still illegal under federal law. Which means that most growers lack insurance to cover their losses.
“Nobody right now has insurance,” says Nikki Lastreto, secretary of the Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association. “They might have insurance on their house, but not on their crop.”
California Cannabis Industry Association spokesman, Benjamin Bradley knows of at least 30 cannabis grows that have been directly affected. “We’ve seen complete annihilation so far. Whole farms burned down.”
Wildfires Destroy Millions of Dollars Worth of Weed
Wildfires have raged for days in the area known as the Emerald Triangle. This 10,000 square-mile, three county area is home to possibly the largest concentration of cannabis farms in the world. It’s estimated that there are between 3,000-5,000 growers in the affected area. Hundreds of thousands of plants worth “a few hundred million” dollars have either burned, been tainted by smoke, or are in danger or burning.
What crops didn’t get burned to the ground are likely to end up damaged by smoke from the fires. Brown says that “smoky crops are more susceptible to diseases such as mold, fungus, and mildew.” Smoke damaged crops will also taste smoky, which will leave many growers turning to sell their smoky flower to make concentrates for cannabis oils. And while it’s something, concentrates and oils sell at a fraction of the price of flower.
The fires could not have come at a worse possible time. Most crops had not yet been harvested, which means a total loss for countless growers in the area. California Cannabis Industry Association spokesman, Josh Drayton expects “the devastation is going to be larger than anyone would hope it to be.”