Idaho Growers Squeeze Through

Published online: Oct 09, 2003
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>Growers in Aberdeen, ID, and others areas of Bingham and Power counties barely got through the 2003 water year intact.

Calling it the worst water shortage to ever hit the Springfield-Aberdeen Canal Company, growers survived a 23-day period without water for their crops and also one of the hottest summers ever in the region.

According to Steve Howser, canal company manager, growers will be down on yields, mostly on their sugarbeet crops. He predicts they will also be down on their potato yield from a 350-400 cwt average to 300-325 cwt.

The canal company irrigates 60,000 acres. As things turned out, the company was probably affected more than any other irrigation company in Idaho.

Howser said that in 2001, the canal was shut off for 15 days. In 2002 it was shut down for 18 days. This year when water was out for 23 days, all of those days were over 95-degree F tempetures. Evapotranspiration rates were very high, he explained.

Growers were able to save crops when the canal company water was turned back into the irrigation system for 10 days in September. Growers with wells were not affected, although the heat has also taken a toll on their potato quality and yields as well.

It was estimated the area only received about one-half inch of rain during the entire summer. Usually the area gets nice showers in August.