Southeastern Colorado Growers Loving Wet Spring

Published online: May 21, 2019 Articles Peter Roper
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Source: Fowler Tribune

Winter snow and spring rain have chased drought conditions out of nearly all  Colorado and farmers are reveling in it by planting “every available acre,” as one Avondale farmer put it.

“It’s terrific. I’m putting in 14-hour days just trying to make use of all the water we’re getting right now,” said Dan Hobbs of Hobbs & Meyer Farms.

Only a year ago, farmers in southeastern Colorado were leaving significant amounts of land unplanted as a hedge against likely crop losses from extremely dry conditions. But not this year.

The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows the state virtually clear of any signs of drought except for a small strip in Southeastern Colorado, which is marked as slightly dry.

“This year, we’re chasing water instead,” Hobbs said. “My neighbors are planting every available acre they can find.”

Hobbs said one change he’s made is shifting to some historically durable varieties of wheat and barley, which are more resistant to grasshoppers.

The region has had three summers of bad grasshopper infestations, although Hobbs is expecting that to back off this year.

“Old-timers will tell you hoppers come in three-year cycles and that seems about right,” he said.

More snow and rain have had some drawbacks.

San Luis Valley potato growers reported a halt in planting earlier this spring because of wet conditions.

Statewide, the winter wheat is thriving, with 77 percent of the crop rated as excellent.

Livestock reports indicate that spring calving is complete and went well for most ranchers.

A major reason is for the widespread good news is all the snow that fell in the mountains this winter.

State officials reported the snowpack was at 155 percent of normal for this time of year and cool spring weather has slowed down the melt, which is also desirable.