Keeping the Orchards Warm

I went out to Hood River, Oregon this morning to try to catch a decent sunrise. It’s been raining most of the month of April and we have even had several snow episodes. This morning was iffy on the way out with rain showers chasing me all the way. But when I got there, the sky opened up a bit. It was 29 degrees and the orchard owners often light smudge pots and use large fans to keep the trees and blossoms warm. This was the first time I’ve had a chance to include some lit smudge pots in a photo. Kinda fun. Although, as you can see there’s a lot of smoke in the area. Still, it was a nice experience.

I posted this in Non-Nature because there’s an abundance of humanity in this image.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any comments, I know this isn’t a wall hanger by any means…but I hope it tells a story.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Fujifilm GFX 100, GF 45-100mm @ 45mm, 25sec @ f/10, ISO 500, Polarizer, Tripod, handwarmers.

Processed in Capture One, bringing up shadows in the foreground, dehazing some of the regions, adding a touch of contrast/clarity, and healing out a couple of star trails.

Pretty cool. I’d heard of this being done in centuries past and it’s kind of interesting that it’s still a viable method of keeping crops from failing. The 25-second exposure did interesting things with the clouds. Nice contrasting colors, too. Do they rotate the smudge pots? Some of the trees aren’t getting any heat.

What a job, trying to beat the frost! You captured the scene beautifully with a wonderful balance of ambient light. In the vineyards around my area, big fans are often enough to stir up the air when the frost is from radiant cooling on a clear, calm night. They also use large agricultural sprinklers, but with water critical in the area I don’t know if that is allowed now.

It certainly tells a story for me having spent almost all my life in the Yakima Valley. I remember burning tires, diesel filled smudge pots and anything else that could be burned to maintain a suitable temperature. Lots of black, tarry stuff in our homes, on our clothes and in our noses (and lungs, too). Our house was in the middle of orchards. While not the healthiest way to save a crop ( or at least some of it), it was essential to this valley which depended on fruit for its existence. For an interesting view of the valley we would go to the top of surrounding hills and look down on a valley on fire and later a valley covered by a thick, heavy black fog. Slowly those methods were replaced by wind machines and gas smudge pots. Now the most popular is under tree and over head sprinklers. The ice coating helps to maintain an acceptable temperature. The last few nights have brought lots of orchard “heating”. I’ll post a photo or two from this morning.
I really like this photo. Thank you for posting it.

@Kris_Smith, @Diane_Miller, and @Jim_Gavin thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.

Kris, I was told that the crops where the smudge pots were are more sensitive to the cold than the ones not fired up. However there were large fans moving the air in those areas.

Diane, they use those big fans here too. I haven’t seen the sprinkler approach, but sure would love to see that and get some image.

Jim thanks for the comments and your history in the Yakima Valley. Great story.