Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fields drying out

Farmers welcome warm, dry days after weeks of rain

Middleton-The first days of May were windy and dry, a welcome sight after weeks of record rains. 

Spring rains turned fields to mud, and farmers were able to get only a handful of days for field preparation and planting.

Sid Freeman has farmed the Treasure Valley for more than 5 decades and says he’s never seen a year like this, because this time of year he’s usually seeded his fields.

“I get worried but then the sun comes out and everything will be fine. Mother Nature will make us or break us this year," Freeman said.

So far this year, it’s a series of bad breaks everything from torrential rainstorms, hail, 20 mile-an hour winds and even snow two weeks ago. "We're at least three weeks behind on some of these plantings," he said.

Canyon County farmers like Freeman say that when you’re late a week in the spring, you can count on two weeks late in the fall.

"The deeper you go into fall the weather gets bad later in the harvest," Freeman said.

On a typical harvest year, Freeman plants crops like onions, radish seeds, and sugar beets by mid-March, but this year all the rain has turned fields into mud. He didn’t move any equipment until the first of April.

"It shortens up the window for these crops to get mature. It also 
Increases the risk of late season disease and affects size and weight at harvest,” said Freeman.

Freeman says its all about quality, and he worries with each passing week.
"If you are unable to get the crop to full maturity, the quality suffers and you may or may not be able to sell that crop," he said. 

That means low-quality yields, no matter how much work and effort goes into the crop.

"We're still going to get a production out of it, but whether the quality is marketable or not, that's yet to be determined," Freeman said.

Freeman says he likes what he’s seeing in the weather forecast later this week with highs in the 70s and even a magical 80-degree day if weather patterns hold up.

"If only we could have a 75 to 80 degree day, just for a 24-hour period, that would be absolutely perfect," he said.

Freeman says besides planting, irrigation is also behind schedule. He says no one needs water right now, it’s still too wet. After decades of drought, to have too much water was once unthinkable.

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