Dry, freezing conditions for farming
It has been mostly a cold spring to date, including some hard freezes that have caused some issues, but it has been mostly dry before heading into this week’s predicted prolonged rainy weather.
That has allowed much of the spring planting to get completed. Local agronomist Merlin VanDeraa estimated that irrigated corn planting is about 75 percent completed.
However, farmers also have had to turn on their sprinklers early as there has been very little moisture.
“Everyone’s ready for a good rain,” VanDeraa said. “It hasn’t been very good for April and May.”
There has been precious little moisture. According to the CoAgMET weather station at the Irrigation Research Foundation site, there was a total of 0.89 of an inch of precipitation in March. It was even drier in April with 0.25 of an inch. Both are well below the historical average for those months.
Maybe May will help turn it around as Yuma received a quarter-inch through the first six days.
The forecast was for steady moisture Tuesday through Thursday. However, VanDeraa pointed out the area has missed out on predicted high-moisture events the past couple of months.
While there have been some warm, sunny days the past couple of months, it never seems to last long, being overtaken by colder weather.
May already has had three days with highs below 65. April had a nice stretch early with six days between 70 and 78 degrees, but was followed immediately by a cool down that led to three straight days of low temps of 19 degrees. There were 11 days in April with highs below 60, and 13 in the 70s or 80s. March had two days in the 70s, and 17 days below 50, including overnight lows of minus-12 degrees on March 3 and 4.
The hard freeze that could cause problems came last week when the temperature dropped to 20 degrees on May 2.
Agronomist Davin Doyle said that freeze is a concern with the winter wheat, “but at this point I’m not seeing damage at the heads, but we really won’t know until they start to flower.”
“I was surprised I didn’t see more damage,” VanDeraa said, “but it might take awhile to show up.”
However, it is known the freeze did cause at least some damage to the recently-planted sugar beets, because the plants were so close to emerging from the ground. There are some instances in which sugar beet fields are being replanted because the freeze killed the plants.