Mother Nature is causing challenges for producers from California to S. Carolina
In the western part of the country, there is some devastating news for farmers on the California-Oregon line.
The latest drought monitor shows how bad the situation is in the Klamath River Basin. The region is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought. The worst of it stretches all the way into Texas.
Producers in the Klamath River Basin just learned they will only have access to 8 percent of the water they need this year. The Bureau of Reclamation said that it is weighing the needs of agriculture versus an endangered fish.
The Bureau is in charge of a federal irrigation project and will only draw a tiny fracture of water from Klamath Lake. Those deliveries will also start two months later than usual. USDA said it is freeing up $10 million dollars so it can help farmers.
In the Northern Plains, the soils are hard, making it difficult to plant. Specifically, the states bordering Canada are in desperate need of moisture. Some farmers are waiting for rain while others are taking their chances since it is spring wheat planting season. The Northern Plains went through a significant drought four years ago.
Just south, in the Midwest and Southern Plains, the big concern right now is the cold snap.
It is causing wheat, corn, and soybean futures to rally on fears the crop will be harmed. Winter wheat futures posted the biggest increase and the cold does not appear to be lifting anytime soon.
Commodity Weather Group says that a cold surge next week could cause spotty wheat damage to the southern one-third of the plains. It could also cause some growers to delay planting corn and soybeans.
The cold snap is also impacting farmers in the Pacific Northwest. It may have damaged some stone fruit trees. Growers are monitoring the situation but say that it will take time to figure out if it was a thinning freeze, or something more significant.
USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey says that there is a fine line for all blooming fruit trees. It depends on the exact location and the lay of the orchard.
Heading south, the freezes earlier this month damaged the peach crop in South Carolina. Farmers in the state have seen temperatures well down into the 20’s in some of the orchards.
“According to USDA NASS, as of the week ending April 11th, South Carolina now reporting 45 percent of the peach crop rated poor to very poor condition, and that is up from 0 percent prior to the April 2nd and 3rd freeze,” Rippey explains.
He says that other southern states stayed warm enough so there was not any significant damage to the peach crop, but there have been some reports of damage to winter wheat and blueberries.