Season gets an early start

The Jefferson County Smoke Management Program manages local field burning from late July through October.

Growers register the acres they want to burn, and burn days are determined by program coordinator Kristy Fisher.

“This year is a lot different from last year, when the wheat didn’t ripen until later. This year the wheat is early, so the burning season is taking off faster,” Fisher said.

She said they started burning July 29, and last week 600 acres were burned. “There’s a lot of garlic flaming going on now, too,” she added.

Fisher noted that area wildfires and the recent Green Ridge forest fire is adding to smoke in the area.

During burn season, a pilot does daily flights to record temperatures and track inversions, to determine the time of day that would be best for smoke dispersal.

Fisher obtains weather information from Oregon Department of Agriculture meteorologists, then she and an assistant release pilot balloons daily to confirm the forecasted wind directions and speeds.

Usually, the final two weeks of August have the most burning days of the season. Open field burning season ends around the third week of September.

After that, no open field burning is allowed, but a separate propane flaming and vine burning season extends for four weeks beyond the regular season. This allows for the burning of vines from crops harvested later in the season, such as potato vines and carrot vines.

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