Dry summer causing major concerns for Cache farmers


CACHE COUNTY – The last measurable precipitation besides just a trace in the Cache Valley was in mid-May. That’s why Utah State University Agricultural Extension Agent for Cache County Clark Israelsen spends most of his time these days dealing with challenges related to the dry weather.

<p class=”p2″>“Right now, irrigation is our major concern. Cache County is blessed a lot more than other parts of the state. However, our supply of irrigation water is quite limited and we are being very careful and doing our best to be efficient with it. Honestly, we’ve done pretty well with that this year.”

<p class=”p2″>Israelsen said longtime valley residents have come to expect a good storm during Richmond Black and White Days in May and it happened once again this year.

<p class=”p2″>“That is our last storm of any significance,” said Israelsen. “We started the year knowing that things would be tight because of the low snowpack in the mountains.”

<p class=”p2″>He said some of the local irrigation companies depending on reservoir storage from Bear Lake, Porcupine Reservoir or Hyrum Reservoir have done okay, even though the water levels are now dropping quickly.

<p class=”p2″>“Companies depending strictly on run off — from Logan River and Blacksmith Fork specifically — things are really pretty tight there.”

<p class=”p2″>Israelsen said the new canal has been a blessing.

<p class=”p2″>“In a typical year the users on that system would have been out of water already. But things are better this year with the increased efficiency which is part of the new design. For that system to be constructed as quickly as it was is nothing short of a miracle.”

<p class=”p2″>He said the growing season started earlier than normal this year.

<p class=”p2″>“The weather was such early in the spring that we were able to get the spring grain planted early. In fact, we’re starting to harvest grain throughout the county right now. The dry land is ready and lots of irrigated acreage will be harvested shortly.

<p class=”p2″>“We’re quite fortunate to have had sufficient water for the irrigated small grains. Those on dry land have suffered because there has been no moisture from heaven.”

<p class=”p2″>He said the limited supply of irrigation remaining can be used for alfalfa and pastures and corn silage. 

<p class=”p2″>“Corn is a heavy user of water. Corn loves hot weather. We have adequate irrigation water to put on the corn. In these hot days it grows quickly and most of our growers are planting shorter season varieties which enhances harvest time. We think we will be chopping corn by the middle of September this year.”

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