Rain and cold present challenges for local farmers

Posted 6/27/19

In June, it has seemed the rain just wouldn’t stop. While it’s an inconvenience for most residents, the moisture can have a lot of impacts on agriculture — good and bad. …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Rain and cold present challenges for local farmers

Posted

In June, it has seemed the rain just wouldn’t stop. While it’s an inconvenience for most residents, the moisture can have a lot of impacts on agriculture — good and bad.

“Nobody likes to complain about the rain,” said farmer Ric Rodriguez, who farms in the Heart Mountain area.

According to data from the High Plains Regional Climate Center, as of June 20, Powell was about 0.75 inches above normal for this year’s annual accumulation of precipitation. Clark was about 1.65 inches above normal, Deaver less than 0.5 inches above normal, and Lovell is less than 0.25 inches above normal.

Rodriguez said the rain hadn’t been nearly as disruptive as the cool weather. He had to replant his sugar beets after a freeze in May.

“The barley, though, is looking real good,” Rodriguez said, noting the crop tends to handle cold a bit better than other crops.

The Powell Field Station recorded a couple weeks of below normal temperatures in May, including a record low of 27 degrees on May 10. June has seen some below normal temperatures, too, with a record low of 31 degrees on June 9.

Rodriguez said he had rotated out his pinto bean crop, which was fortunate, as the crop is very susceptible to cold weather.

Jeremiah Vardiman, an educator with University of Wyoming Extension, said the rain impacts the timing of field preparation and fertilizer and herbicide application.

“It’s challenging. It’s impacting the crops, impacting the fields,” he said.

The rain can also facilitate crop disease, but, fortunately, Vardiman hasn’t heard of any farmers having that problem.

“Overall, crops are still looking good,” he said.

The wet fields make it harder to get equipment out, as the muddy conditions can compact the soil and cause other problems. This slowed things down this year.

“We’re having to play catch-up,” Vardiman said.

While rain can be good for crops, it’s also good for weeds. They have been sprouting up, causing quite the headache. 

“It is just crazy,” said R.J. Kost, who leases farmland and does some work on the fields.

Kost also said the cold weather has slowed down crop growth. Usually corn is knee-high by the Fourth of July, he said, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get there this year.

Exactly how the cold and moisture plays out will depend on how warm the weather gets and for how long this summer, as well as how things shape up this fall.

This coming week, temperatures are projected to climb into the 80s for the foreseeable future. There does seem to be a bit of rain ahead as well.

A late fall could help mitigate some of the slow growth this spring, giving farmers a longer growing season on the other side. On the other hand, if it comes early, it will exacerbate the problems.

“That’s the game of chance farmers have to play,” Kost said.

Comments