I've had a few inquiries so here is the advice I've been giving:
REPLANTING OF FIELDS FLOODED LAST YEAR
Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
Many fields and gardens across Vermont were exposed to flood waters in
2011. The vast majority of these can be planted in the normal fashion
this year. The exceptions would be fields that have obvious signs of
contamination, such as unusual soil odors, visual evidence of fuel
/oils, or hazardous debris. Growers with fields that were flooded last
year are urged to submit a soil sample for testing by the UVM to
determine if nutrient levels have been affected and if heavy metals have
been deposited. See: http://pss.uvm.edu/ag_testing/?Page=soils.html or
call 802-656-3030, the cost is $24.
To date, testing of soil from over 150 flooded fields in Vermont has
revealed no sign of heavy metal contamination. If soils have signs that
fuel may be present or if fuel tanks were flooded or deposited nearby, a
soil sample can be tested for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons by Endyne
Labs in Williston; cost is $75. Contact them for information:
http://www.endynelabs.com/ or (802) 879-4333. (Limited testing for
hydrocarbons in several different watersheds did not find cause for
Testing for microbial contamination is not practical due to the number
of possible pathogens and variability in their population across a
field. However, crops that are being planted this spring on soils that
flooded last year should be fine for human consumption. After being
exposed to solar radiation, cold temperatures in winter, and other
factors that limit their survival in soil, there is little risk of
microbial pathogens from last year’s flooding. For example, the commonly
accepted waiting period to reduce food safety risks in food crops after
application of raw manure is 120 days. Of course, common sense washing
routines should be followed before selling or eating produce.
Finally, here are the talking points I am using when the media asks me
about the situation:
1. there is no evidence that food or soil was contaminated after
flooding last year and to assure food safety growers took the precaution
of destroying all crops that were touched by flood water.
2. This year any concerns about the effect of past flooding are greatly
reduced due to the natural breakdown of microbes and other possible
residues during the months that have passed.
3. Vermont's environment remains among the most pristine of any food
producing area in the world, and our farmers are well aware of sanitary
production practices; thus the food we produce is exceptionally safe.