2012 crop season begins on the dry side
What is missing in this picture? The old beet pulp storage bin at the Western Sugar Cooperative facility in Scottsbluff has been demolished and will not be replaced.
By SANDRA HANSEN
Most residents of the Nebraska Panhandle and eastern Wyoming are still waiting for winter to arrive, but the calendar says spring is here – with or without April showers or any other moisture. Things took a bit of a turn for the better when clouds, and even some rain arrived, along with a crack of thunder at 2:50 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
The northern counties did receive damaging frost a week ago, and there were reports of frost around the region last weekend, but moisture is hard to find.
According to Jerry Darnell, Western Sugar agriculture manager for the Nebraska growing area, said quite a few sugar beet growers are irrigating their land before planting this year because it is so dry. As of Thursday, about 3,000 acres of beets had been planted, or about 6 percent of the crop. Soil temperatures have not been a problem this spring.
Darnell said northeastern Colorado growers are reporting a few emerged stands. They usually plant about a week to 10 days ahead of Nebraska and Wyoming. Northern Wyoming and Montana farmers have planted about 10 percent of their crop.
Thursday’s rain was more than welcome, and Darnell said he hopes the weather forecast for the weekend comes true.
Regarding the Roundup Ready beets, Darnell said they are being planted again this year, under the same requirements of a year ago.
Although producers have been concerned about moisture for their dryland crops and rangeland, irrigators who rely on the North Platte River reservoir system for irrigation, are confident of enough water for their 2012 needs. However, the lack of sufficient snowpack in the Rocky Mountains has them worried about next year, and laying plans to conserve as much as possible this summer.
The latest data on reservoir water supplies will be presented by Lyle Myler, acting western area manager of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation office in Mills, Wyo., during a public meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, at the North Platte Natural Resources District office in Scottsbluff.
Already this month, area irrigation districts have been setting water delivery schedules.
The Farmers Irrigation District Board met last week and decided to schedule an early hay run. Water will be released on May 1, with deliveries starting May 3 for 14 days. Deliveries will end May 17.
Kevin Adams, FID general manager, said producers needing early water should be ready to take it during that time and should notify their ditch riders 24 hours in advance of when they want it.
Pathfinder Irrigation District is considering deliveries through its canal to the Inland Lakes about April 15-20. When that process is completed, district customers begin to take deliveries. This would place the first PID deliveries about May 7.
In Wyoming, the Goshen Irrigation District expects to take water from the river by May 1, according to General Manager Bill Vandivort.
Rick Preston, general manager of the Gering/Fort Laramie Irrigation District, said his board is looking at making water available the first of May, but it all depends on the weather.
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