ORISKANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — When the smoke and haze made Central New York its home early on this week, people began to wonder what effect it would have not only on them, but their plants too.

But have no fear, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County’s Horticulture and Master Gardener Volunteer program has some good news for you.

Your gardens and plants are going to be OK!

According to Steve Reiners, Professor Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science College of Ag and Life Sciences, Cornell University Cornell Agri Tech, the smoke is more of a danger to you than your garden.

When the smoke filled the sky, it decreased the sunlight which reduces photosynthesis, but only for a limited time.

“Despite the shade, there is still enough diffused light penetrating the smoke to maintain
growth. Smoke typically does not block the pores in the leaf (stomata) where photosynthesis happens. The most important thing you can do is maintain good soil moisture by optimizing irrigation. This will keep the pores open and clean,” said Cornell’s Cooperative Extension.

The lack of rain is doing more damage than the few-day streak of smoke.

Another concern was if edible plants would pick up a smoky flavor. According to research done in California after their wildfires, leafy greens had no issues with flavor or possible volatile chemicals on or within the leaves.

On top of that, the smoke we had does not contain dangerous chemicals.

Cornell’s Cooperative Extension says the smoke we are experiencing is nearly 100% from the burning forests — not plastics, buildings, or chemicals as seen in recent train derailments. The rain that falls through this smoky layer is also not dangerous to plants, people, or animals.

This rain that falls is less acidic, it has more a of neutral pH.

As for pollinators, the smoke leads them to stay close to their hives. It’s early in the season to be pollinating fruiting crops and squash, so this shouldn’t be a worry either.

For more information on the Master Gardener Volunteer program or for garden questions call 736-3394 ext. 333 or email homeandgarden@cornell.edu