CORNISH – It’s been a dry Fall and for Cache Valley dry farmers that is not a good thing. There are thousands of dry farm acres riding on this weekend’s predicted storm. Many of the area farmers have seeded their crops and are waiting for some precipitation to get their crops to grow a little before it gets too cold and snow blankets the ground.
Professor Earl Creech, an Extension Agronomist in Plant, Soils and Climate at Utah State University, said Cache Valley usually gets an inch or two of rain before now. Farmers have planted their winter wheat and have a few inches of green starts heading into winter.
“In June, we had two good storms with two to three inches of water,” he said. “Then I don’t think we got much of any rain from then on.”
Crops can’t grow without water.
“Once you hit the 20th of October and there is no rain you just put the seeds in the ground and hope for the best,” Creech said. “I haven’t seen anything like this in the past 10 years or at least since I’ve been working at USU.”
Creech was raised in Cornish and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at USU then left to get his PhD at Purdue University. He is the third generation farmer on the family ground that borders Idaho.
“We usually get an inch or two of rain in September when we are harvesting corn and have to stop for a week or two, but not this year,” Creech said. “We planted our seeds in the ground and are just waiting for the rain.”
He is hoping this weekend’s expected storm will bring a little rain or snow and then warm back up. If it stays cold after the storm the seeds may not sprout. Usually by now his dry farm looks like a green carpet with a few inches of wheat growing out of the ground.
“There are a lot of old timers in the valley that may have a better perspective than I do,” he said. “I have a degree from one of the most prestigious Ag schools in the country and I still seek advice from my father.”
It’s just the way farming is. You put the seeds in the ground and have faith that mother nature will make them grow, Creech said.
“If we get rain and things grow it will all be forgotten,” he said. “If we get it and it turns cold, it won’t germinate the seeds. Just going off the top of my head it could be trouble for farmers. We just have to wait and see.”
On the east side of Cache Valley things are different, they have run off from the mountains and wells. On the west side of the valley they rely on mother nature and an irrigation ditch that transports water from Weston Reservoir to their fields. The canal water is shut off for the season.
“I work the family farm for street cred,” he said. “I feel like if I work on the farm I have a better grasp of what people are going through.”
This late in the season if they get water there still are a lot of unknows, especially if it snows.
“We don’t know how the crops will come up under the snow,” the professor said. “You plant this late in the fall and it sits underneath the snow, will it sprout?”