Sugar Growers Take Precautions Amid Red Flag Warning

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WESLACO – Controlled agricultural burns at sugar cane fields continued Thursday, despite a red flag warning issued for the entire Rio Grande Valley.

The burns are subject to rules set by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said a spokesperson for a local sugar cooperative.

Crews have to monitor wind speeds and prepare sites for burns, said RGV Sugar Growers Cooperative Environmental Health and Safety Director Dale Kerstetter.

"We notify the local fire departments ahead of time that we're going to do the burn," he said. "Then again, we have our own trained fire crews out there every single time that we do a burn field."

Crews till adjacent soils to remove grasses and water down the area, he said. Signs go up about a week before the burn to forewarn the public.

"Sustained winds have to be greater than three miles an hour and less than 23 miles an hour," he added.

He added when winds exceed the guidelines, agricultural burns cannot happen.

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