California Farmers Prepare for the Possibility of El Nino Floods
California farmers are preparing to deal with the potential for heavy rains and flooding this winter. Flooding is a serious food safety issue because it can introduce pathogens to crops. In fact, FDA considers produce that has been in contact with flood waters adulterated.
The LGMA food safety practices provide guidance on what to do if flooding affects a leafy green crop. LGMA staff is working with its members and their growers to ensure they know what to do after a flood.
We have a new resource available for LGMA members and other interested parties. It is a fact sheet that provides an overview LGMA best practices after a flood event. This was first presented in a webinar in mid-November.
Below are a few key points taken from the fact sheet and webinar:
The LGMA metrics address three different kinds of flooding: flooding of an existing crop, flooding near an existing crop and flooding where a new crop is planned.
With any type of flooding it is critical that you conduct a risk assessment and document your actions.
If flooding reaches an existing crop it is important to buffer the area and NOT to harvest product in the area.
Farmers should wait at least 60 days before planting on ground that has flooded. The goal is to allow the soil to dry out.
Farmers can reduce the 60-day interval to 30 days by collecting and testing soil samples from the flooded area. Refer to the attached documents for more information on testing.
We encourage all interested parties to read the Flooding Fact Sheet. The fact sheet is a supplement to the LGMA metrics document which addresses flooding on page 39. If you need more information feel free to contact LGMA Technical Director, Mike Villaneva.
California is in desperate need of rain and snow, so the predicted El Nino rains are welcome. We just need to make sure that rain or shine – leafy greens are safe.