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Weather puts producers behind
County’s crops are as much as three weeks behind schedule
by SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 5/12/11
H&N file photo by Andrew Mariman    Weather has prevented farmers from planting their
spring wheat crop. Other crops also are behind.
     Fieldwork statewide has been delayed by about two weeks because of cold and wet weather, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported this week.
   In the first week of May, 38 of the service’s 43 stations reported measurable precipitation, and four reported more than an inch.
   Klamath County growers are at least two, maybe three, weeks behind schedule, said Brian Charlton, cropping systems specialist at OSU Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center.
   “Usually our earliest stuff is in the last week of April, and that wasn’t the case,” he said.  
   Onions and potatoes are now in the ground for the most part, but spring grain largely isn’t.
   At the beginning of the year, a high-pressure system allowed spring-like weather in the West while the East was slammed with snowstorms. But conditions switched , bringing a low-pressure system that allowed for snow as late as the end of April in the West.
   “The moisture we’re getting right now … would have really helped out when we were short on water,” Charlton said. “But a situation like this, when we have plenty of water … is just as miserable.”  
   Wet across the state
   Growers statewide have been dealing with wet weather, NASS reports. Spring wheat planting is just wrapping in the Willamette Valley, and potato planting in Malheur County is about 50 percent complete.
   The report predicts five days this week will be suitable for fieldwork across the state; last week 3.4 days were considered suitable. The five year average shows that historically at this time of year, 5.3 days per week are suitable for fieldwork.
   Ranchers will need drier days and warmer weather to help pasture growth, NASS reports. Only 7 percent of pastureland statewide is considered in excellent condition; 51 percent is good and 34 percent is fair.
   According to the NASS report, last week 28 percent of soil tested had a surplus of moisture and 69 percent had adequate soil moisture.
   Growers may be able to make up the lost time, depending on summer conditions, Charlton said.
   NASS reports that average temperatures this season have been 2.5 degrees below normal.
   Even if precipitation had been normal for this time of year, Charlton said, cooler temperatures would have delayed plant growth.
   “With the temperatures we’ve had, the soil not being warm, I don’t know that they would have gained a whole lot,” he said.  
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