Hot days boon for area growers

Posted 6/8/21

The National Weather Service is predicting a 40% chance of above normal temperatures for the next month, coupled with a 33-40% chance of below normal precipitation for this region.

The two can be …

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Hot days boon for area growers

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The National Weather Service is predicting a 40% chance of above normal temperatures for the next month, coupled with a 33-40% chance of below normal precipitation for this region.

The two can be a blessing or a curse to agricultural producers, depending on where the crops are in their development and how the producers deal with the weather.

Right now, it is perfect weather for spraying the barley crop for weeds, according to Rick Redd, regional manager of barley operations for Briess Malt Co.

But those same growers will need to water right away, Redd recounted, because the heat could put some stress on the crop.

Ric Rodriguez, a beet, barley and alfalfa grower at Heart Mountain, welcomed the hot, dry weather. “It’s the best thing for them,” he said about his barley and beets. Rodriguez has sprayed the barley for weeds and is getting ready to turn the water on it. He uses pivot irrigation. Estimates are that pivots may use up to two-thirds less water for the same field with the same crop than was required to flood irrigate.

The grain crop will be watered about once every 10 days or so, Rodriguez said. 

“You never get rain when you need it,” he laughed. “I won’t turn down a good rain, but with irrigation you can control it.”

At the same time, he is busy spraying the beet crop for weeds. 

“The beets are up,” Rodriguez said. “They are about the size of a coffee cup, at the four-leaf stage, headed to the six-leaf stage.”

The beets need water to sprout, and after he is done spraying, Rodriguez will spray them again in about two weeks. Then, he said, those producers who use flood irrigation will put in furrows.  Rodriguez also uses pivot irrigation on his beets. The root crop will also be watered every seven to 10 days.

Alfalfa is a different matter, though.

Water is on those fields and Rodriguez expects to cut in about two weeks. There should be a second crop of alfalfa hay about the end of August or in September, he said. 

It is a very busy time for producers. 

“We’re all going pretty hard, spraying beets, spraying barley,” Rodriguez said. The bean growers have just passed the end of planting and that crop is beginning to sprout, turning more fields green around the region.

Right now, early in the growing season, there is ample water in the Heart Mountain Irrigation District, according to Rodriguez.

Later, when both the barley and beets need water about once a week, things can get a little tight on the supply side. But as the days move on toward fall, the crunch eases, the days cool off and the crop moves toward harvest. Then these hot, dry, busy days of summer will be just a memory.

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