Eastern Idaho Looking Good for Water, Crops

Published online: Jun 19, 2014 Irrigation
Viewed 2696 time(s)

Despite mid-winter concerns, Idaho growers are concern-free this season when it comes to moisture.

“We have no worries on moisture this year,” said Phil Nolte, the University of Idaho Extension seed potato specialist for eastern Idaho. “We had really good snowpack this year. Compared to what we were potentially facing in the middle of winter, things have cleared up considerably and are going in a favorable direction.”

For the last week of May, producers in Idaho saw moisture fall across most of the state with Fenn receiving the most at .37 of an inch. Fenn has received the most moisture since the start of the year and is 10.53 inches above normal.

“The reservoirs are filling up and over here they’ve had to run a lot of water down to make room for what is coming now,” said Nolte.

The driest place in the state since the start of the year is Picabo, with a deficit of 4 inches. Picabo was also the coldest place in the state during the tail end of May, registering a chilly 30 degrees. Grand View recorded the highest temperature in the state at 90 degrees.

Topsoil moisture levels across the state are rated as 2 percent very short, 22 percent short, 72 percent adequate, 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels are 10 percent short, 89 percent adequate and 1 percent surplus.

The state’s winter wheat crop is 13 percent headed. Producers report it as 1 percent poor, 13 percent fair, 73 percent good and 13 percent excellent. Nolte said he was unaware of any problems with winter kill in his area.

“From what I’m seeing, the spring plantings are starting to poke through but the potatoes are not up yet,” he said.

Spring wheat across the state is now 94 percent emerged, compared to 85 percent last year and 79 percent for the five-year average. The crop is 22 percent fair, 65 percent good and 13 percent excellent.

Barley is 86 percent emerged, ahead of last year’s 79 percent and the five-year average of 71 percent. One percent of the crop is in poor condition, 20 percent in fair condition, 64 percent good and 15 percent excellent.

Oats are 91 percent emerged, which is well ahead of last year’s 76 percent and the five-year average of 67 percent.

“In our area we don’t have the length of growing season for many crops so we are mostly cereals and potatoes,” said Nolte.

Potatoes are 98 percent planted across the state and 27 percent emerged. Last year at this time, 93 percent of the potatoes were in the ground and 27 percent had emerged. Over the past five years the average is 92 percent planted and 18 percent emerged.

“The eastern production region of Idaho is where most of the seed potato production is located because of the higher elevation,” said Nolte. “We are the largest potato seed predicting state in the U.S. by a fairly wide margin.”

While seed production is heavy in the eastern region, Nolte travels the state to help producers with their seed-related problems in potato production.

Sugarbeets are also starting to come out of the ground with 88 percent emergence, which matches the five-year average but is behind last year’s 92 percent.

Beans are 61 percent planted. Last year the rate was 59 percent. The average over five years is 39 percent. Emergences this year is 34 percent, one percent behind last year but more than double the 15 percent average over five years.

Peas are 98 percent planted, ahead of last year’s 89 percent and the five-year average of 83 percent. Peas are 69 percent emerged, also ahead of last year’s 55 percent and the five-year average of 45 percent.

Corn planting is about three-quarters complete, with 74 percent planted. That matches the five-year average and is only one percent behind last year. Sixty-three percent of the corn has emerged, more than double the five-year average of 31 percent and ahead of last year’s emergence of 44 percent.

“Some corn is being planted in our area but most of that goes for cattle feed,” said Nolte. “Hay is another crop that is used in rotations out here.”

The first cutting of alfalfa is complete on 17 percent of the fields.


Source: Ag Weekly