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California cannabis farmers prepping for wildfire season

Wildfire season is quickly approaching in California, and marijuana farmers all over the immense state are trying to bolster their defenses against a perennial threat that wreaked record-setting havoc in 2020.

Conditions appear worse this year, and marijuana growers are making preparations as best they can.

Robert Steffano recently concluded maintenance checks on 30 fire extinguishers strategically located on his Humboldt County-based Villa Paradiso Farms, which produces and sells bulk flower to distributors.

The firefighting devices are on every rig and quad, down at the pumphouse, at the power station, the main compound and near the solar panel system.

“The key to survival out here is immediate suppression,” said Steffano, a longtime volunteer fireman and cannabis grower who knows the terrain better than most.

“If there’s smoke, you’re on it.”

Also among Steffano’s firefighting arsenal is The Wookie, a military 6×6 cargo truck he retrofitted with a 1,000-gallon water tank, 100-foot fire hose and industry-grade pump.

The truck stands ready for action at a moment’s notice.

Image of Wookie firetruck

The Wookie served as the Palo Verde Volunteer Fire Department’s firetruck for years. The truck, which weighs 30,000 pounds, was pulled from active duty when the department acquired a water tender that hauls 2,500 gallons. (Photo courtesy of Robert Steffano)

Drought conditions renew concerns 

The Sierra Nevada mountain range snowpack, which accounts for 30% of California’s fresh water in a typical year, was at 59% of its yearly average on April 1, considered the end of the rain and snow season.

It’s the second significant shortage in two years, prompting the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of press time, to categorize most of Northern California’s fertile cannabis growing region as being under severe or extreme drought.

“Everything is accelerated because of the dryness,” Steffano said. “There’s no rain.”

The conditions are just as dire on the Central Coast, where Lowell Farms operates a 225,000-square-foot greenhouse in Monterey County.

Though the greenhouse is miles from woodlands, Lowell is implementing contingencies to mitigate wildfire air-quality and heat issues, which can severely damage crops.

“We are automating our greenhouses with emergency sequences that can respond in a moment’s notice to these adverse conditions,” Lowell Board Chair George Allen said.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Chris Cassacchia on Marijuana Business Daily

Published: June 14, 2021

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