Idaho Growers Hopes Brightened

Published online: May 09, 2005
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Even though Snake River Watermaster Ron Carlson says the Snake River storage system will not fill this year, there should be a pleantiful amount for irrigators.

That statement was made after the first days in May brought nice rain showers to eastern and southern Idaho and have done a lot to brighten irrigators' hopes.

While rain totals are pushing over one inch in many places, the rain by itself will not pull the state out of drought, Carlson explained. Because the state is in the sixth year of an extended dry period, it will probably take two or three average snowfall years to bring things back to normal.

The rains have taken some pressure off irrigation systems for grain and hay growers and have been a boon to newly planted sugarbeets. While some growers got a good early start planting potatoes in mid-April, the bulk of the state's crop will not be in the ground until mid-May.

Despite the rains, sprinklers continued to run because a skipped irrigation would mean deficit ground water amounts for row crops. Pump irrigators are still faced with the task of making up stream flow for downstream irrigators. How this will be sorted out is still up in the air although pumpers have managed to buy or rent nearly 30,000 acre feet of surface water for Twin Falls canal companies.