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Rains delay planting in Treasure Valley

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Planting in Idaho's Treasure Valley area has been delayed by a series of rainstorms that drenched the area for a week. But the precipitation helped an already improving water supply situation and did more good than harm, growers said.

BOISE — A week of rainstorms that drenched most of Idaho’s Treasure Valley area have delayed planting, but farmers aren’t complaining.

Considering the vastly improved water supply situation in the valley was at a crisis level as recently as January, the rains were more of a blessing than a curse, said Meridian farmer Drew Eggers, who grows wheat, corn and mint.

“I think the recent rains we have had the last week or so have helped us out,” he said. “It firmed up what should be a pretty decent water year on the Boise water system.”

The rains caused Eggers to delay planting silage corn by about a week and a half.

“I’d rather have it this way than hot and dry like it was last year at this time,” he said. “It did delay planting … but the plants will catch up.”

Boise received 1.27 inches of rain from April 21-27, almost a full inch more than normal. Other parts of the valley, including Meridian, Nampa and Parma, also received significantly more moisture than normal.

“We’ve got quite a bit of rain recently,” said Caldwell farmer Sid Freeman, who grows wheat, sugar beets, onions, corn and seed beans. “It’s delayed some of the spring planting here a little bit, but not too much. Guys are not complaining. It’s more of a blessing than a hindrance.”

Caldwell area farmer Tony Weitz, who grows mint and several other crops, said the rain delayed his field corn planting for a few days but that’s not significant this time of year. More importantly, he said, it saved on at least one irrigation cycle and helped the water supply situation.

“It leaves a little more water in the reservoirs,” he said.

Jon Fabricius, farm manager of Hamanishi Farms, said the area south of Fruitland didn’t get nearly the amount of precipitation that other places did and there has been no delay in planting.

“We’re earlier this year than we’ve been the last two or three years, as far as side-dressing and other field work,” he said. “Tractors are rolling over here. I think everybody’s going full-bore.”

On the Oregon side of the valley, the rains allowed farmers not to have to irrigate for a week or so, which is important because growers in eastern Oregon who get their water from the Owyhee Irrigation District are facing a bleak water year.

While the rains were helpful, there was no bump in river flows from it and it didn’t add any water to the storage system, said Oregon farmer Bruce Corn, an OID board member.

“It was definitely a very beneficial rain and it helped at least temporarily slow down the draw on the reservoir,” he said. “But as far as the storage situation, it’s still pretty grim on the Owyhee system.”


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