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Losses from storm in millions


July 12, 2007 Herald and News

Damage to Klamath Basin crops from last week’s thunderstorm could exceed millions of dollars.

“It’s a multi-million dollar loss for the growers,” said Bob Gasser, co-owner of Basin Fertilizer, which services farmers throughout the Klamath Basin. “Farming is not a fun game sometimes.”

The Friday night storm moved through the Basin from southern Siskiyou County. Basin areas hardest hit included Macdoel, Malin and Bonanza’s Yonna Valley. Damage to strawberries, potatoes, grain and alfalfa was caused by hail, heavy rain and powerful winds. Tuesday’s night storm added more rain and standing water to already soaked fields.

The storms hit as farmers were well into the growing season. Strawberry growers are halfway into the season, which means there are about 80 days until the harvest season, said Scott Scholer, ranch manager for Lassen Canyon Nursery’s Macdoel operations.

“We’re so far into the season that we’re going to have to play catch-up,” said John Walls, ranch manager for Sierra Cascade Nurseries, which has strawberry fields in the Yonna Valley and Macdoel. “We’ve never been down this road before.”

“You just can’t make this lost time up,” Gasser said.

Strawberry growers appear hardest hit, but others also suffered heavy losses. Gasser estimates about 600 to 700 acres of Klamath Basin alfalfa were destroyed, and many farmers lost at least one cutting.

“There’s not much left,” said Roy Wright, a Malin area farmer. Instead of fields yielding 2 to 2 ½ tons of alfalfa per acre, he now expects ¼ to ½ ton per acre on 350 to 400 acres. He also estimates to harvest only 30 to 40 percent of his 100 acres of grain fields.

Gasser estimated about a dozen potato fields in the Malin area were damaged by the storm, with about half of those total losses. Of those, many surviving potato fields will have poor yields.


“When you stun crops like that you just won’t have a good crop,” Gasser said, noting farmers also will have to use fungicides to prevent disease.

Many farmers were continuing to locate and repair irrigation lines Wednesday, five days after the storm.

Wright said four wheel lines and 25 sections were completely destroyed and many remain missing.

“We don’t even know where parts of them are. And we’ve been looking and working since Saturday. We’re looking at every drainage ditch. We found some of them a half-mile away,” he said.

 Lee Juillerat

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