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October 08, 2013 7:36 am

Farmers cope with rain and now snow

Written by Gib Mathers

An early fall snowstorm blanketed the area in white powder Thursday and Friday. Snow coated the West Powell sugar beet pile Friday morning. An early fall snowstorm blanketed the area in white powder Thursday and Friday. Snow coated the West Powell sugar beet pile Friday morning. Tribune photo by Toby Bonner

Rain and snow have definitely put a damper on harvests.

 

The snowstorm that hit Thursday and Friday was just the latest blast of precipitation to fall locally this year. Farmers are usually happy about rain, but this year, they’ve had enough of the wet stuff.

“We don’t need any more storms like this,” said Bill Cox, who farms southwest of Powell.

At the Powell field station, 2.27 inches of precip was recorded in September and 0.42 inches in October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This is one of the toughest Septembers that I remember as far as harvest goes,” said Cory Forman, who farms in the Heart Mountain area.

However, Forman believes he faired better with his bean seed crop than a lot of farmers growing beans and/or beets, he said.

“We’ve got all of ours (bean seeds) out,” he said.

All the rain has definitely slowed harvest efforts, Forman said. He harvested his beans Tuesday night, and it started to rain Wednesday. By late morning Thursday, the rain had turned to snow.

He has harvested his sainfoin crop, but must clean the alfalfa-like forage for seed. However it appears to be a fairly good crop, Forman said.

He still has corn to harvest, but believes the weather had a minimal effect on it, Forman said.

“It wasn’t a good September,” said Beau Fulton, who farms in the Heart Mountain area.

Still Fulton got his alfalfa seed in, but his father, Pidge Fulton, has 100 acres left to harvest. If the snow melts off, the alfalfa should be OK. “Alfalfa,” he said, “it’s pretty forgiving.”

While a few inches of snow fell in Powell, Beau Fulton said heavy snow landed on his farm. After the plows pushed through there was snow piled 4 to 5 feet high.

“We can’t even get to some of the fields yet because of the snowbanks,” said Dwight Gilbert, who also farms in the Heart Mountain area.

Digging beets was made more difficult because the fields are so wet. They have 350 acres of beets. Of that, 200 acres remain to be harvested. Those beets should be OK with the snow cover as long as the temperature does not drop into the teens, Gilbert said.

In farmlands surrounding Powell, fetching beets out of the ground could be onerous because the fields are so muddy, adding strain to machinery and trucks, said Jerry Faxon, who grows beets on Lane 8, just east of Powell.

If beet tops freeze, that could reduce sugar content. His tonnage looks favorable, but the price of sugar has already dropped significantly, so the outlook for beets is not good, Faxon said.

If there is no additional precipitation they should be able to reach the fields by the end of the week. If it does rain or snow, it will be next week, Gilbert said.

“We could stand for the moisture to stop for a couple of weeks,” Fulton said.

He has 150 acres of sunflowers. The snow pushed over 36 rows. At this point, his sunflowers will not likely be harvested until November to allow the grain to dry, Gilbert said.

Edible beans and bean seeds can’t handle more moisture. he said.

Gilbert said he hopes there are no more major storms until he can harvest his beans. He was planning to dig beets today (Tuesday) and beans in a couple of days, Cox said. 

The new trend appears to be plenty of precipitation in the fall, but very little in the spring when crops could use the boost, Gilbert said.

Tuesday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with a high of 62 degrees. There is a 20 percent chance of showers Wednesday, with a high of 55 degrees. There is a 30 percent chance of showers Thursday with a high of 56 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“We deal with what we’ve been dealt because that’s all we can do,” Faxon said.

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