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Rogue Farms Barley Harvest Resumes Despite Wildfires

Blackburn Fire 2 ODF Photo by Chris Friend cropThere are two things we worry most about this time of year at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon – wildfires and storms. Either one could wipe out a crop in a matter of minutes.

This weekend, we got a taste of each.

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Harvest and Fire Collage

Left: The Dare spring malting barley harvest begins under sunny skies. A few hours later the rain arrived.
Right: The same weather system sparked three wildfires between the farm and The Dalles. Photo courtesy Chris Friend, Oregon Department of Forestry.

The harvest of our 100 acres of Dare™ spring malting barley started Friday morning under sunny skies. But as often is the case during the dog days of August, the sun gave way for an afternoon thunderstorm. With the rain falling all around us, we called the combines off the fields and back into the barn. Wet barley can’t be harvested. It gets moldy in storage and may even overheat and catch fire.

To the north of us, our neighbors faced a much more serious situation. Lightning from the storm system sparked three wildfires between our farm and the city of The Dalles. Known as the Government Flat Complex, these fires grew to more than 6400 acres forcing 80 families out of their homes.

Blackburn Fire ODF Photo by Chris Friend

The largest of the three fires, the Blackburn fire, is 18 miles north of Rogue Farms. As of Tuesday morning firefighters could not say when the blazes would be contained. Photo courtesy Chris Friend, Oregon Department of Forestry.

The worst we experienced was the heavy smoke that hung over the barley farm on Saturday and Sunday. Between the smoke and the still wet barley we took a couple of days off from the harvest. By Monday morning the smoke cleared, the sun returned, and we got back to work. With clear skies in the forecast we hope to finish the harvest of our Dare™ malting barley by the end of the week. And then, for us, the danger will have passed.

But our thoughts and prayers are with the families and firefighters just a few miles away.

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