Idaho growers hope weather warms up so plants develop
By SEAN ELLIS
Unseasonably wet spring weather made it a challenge, but Idaho farmers have managed to get most of their crops planted. Now growers hope the unusually cool temperatures will break.
"It was slow to happen, but for the most part people have got their crops planted," said Vince Matthews, director of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service field office in Idaho.
While growers managed to get their crops in the ground, weather conditions have put them behind schedule, said American Falls potato grower Klaren Koompin.
"We got everything in pretty good but there's no doubt we're running a little later than normal," he said. "Growth-wise, we're about 10 days behind."
Growers hope the weather warms up so their plants have enough time to emerge and develop properly.
While precipitation levels around the state since March 1 have been markedly above average, temperatures have been well below average. According to NASS' Idaho crop progress and condition report for the week ending June 5, many extension educators around the state reported very cool weather, a trend that has lasted all spring.
"It's snowing right now, believe it or not," Soda Springs wheat farmer Scott Brown said June 2. "It just hasn't warmed up."
"I told my foreman this morning, 'Man, I wish this weather would straighten out,'" Meridian farmer Drew Eggers said June 3. "It's a pain in the neck. I wish it would get to normal so we can get to rolling and get the things done that need doing."
According to NASS, 85 percent of the state's spring wheat crop had emerged as of June 5, compared with the five-year average of 95 percent, and 74 percent of the barley crop had emerged, behind the five-year average of 88 percent.
Only 26 percent of potatoes had emerged, well off the 49 percent five-year average for this time of year, and only 9 percent of the first cutting of alfalfa had been recorded, compared with the normal 28 percent.
Brown said there's plenty of time left for the state's crops to develop properly and growers aren't panicking, but they are concerned.
Koompin said it's hard to complain about rain in Idaho because the state doesn't get much to begin with, but the cooler temperatures are making things tough.
"The rain's great," he said. "We just need it to start warming up."
If that happens relatively soon, he added, farmers should be OK.