ABERDEEN, Idaho-Growers in eastern Idaho's Pleasant Valley area are accustomed to puzzled expressions when they discuss how they're pulling out pivots in favor of old-fashioned wheel lines.
Throughout most of the country, pivots continue to grow at the expense of other types of irrigation.
In Pleasant Valley, however, several of the major growers have become convinced wheel lines are worth added labor because they offer the best yield potential for their unique field conditions.
"We're still bidding jobs to take more pivots out and put more wheel lines in," said Chuck Buchta, manager of Knudsen irrigation in Aberdeen. "As far as I know, this is the only area in the country where that's happened."
About seven years ago, Knudsen bought out a struggling California wheel line brand called Thunderbird, which utilizes an end-driven propulsion system. He moved the plant to American Falls, Idaho, and sales have grown steadily.
"This last year, I've sold 200 wheel lines, and I'd say 40-60 of them replaced pivots," Buchta said.
Buchta believes pivots remain the best choice for sandy soils as they cover ground and put out water more quickly.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press