Two weeks in the past, Randy O’Connell was surveying his grain and hay crops in Kalispell’s Decrease Valley, wishing for extra rain as his 2,000-acre property was beginning to dry up.
Now, about 100 acres are below water as Ashley Creek floods elements of the land his household homesteaded 5 generations in the past.
“We haven’t seen this since this sort of flooding occasion since 1975,” O’Connell mentioned.
O’Connell says these 100 acres of crops are too broken to get better, however the the rest of his property, which sits on greater floor, is in fine condition for the season now that it’s receiving a lot moisture.
“Up excessive, we’ve received some actually good crops total,” O’Connell mentioned. “It’s simply the low floor that’s getting saturated.”
O’Connell sells hay regionally to prospects within the Flathead and inside a hundred-mile radius from Missoula to Eureka, and he says he’s about to begin chopping hay as soon as the climate dries out – a few month later than a standard yr – however he says that’s not essentially a nasty factor.
“It’s not going to vary costs a lot,” O’Connell mentioned. “We can have a greater total hay yr than we had final yr with the additional moisture. When you take a look at the large image, we do 2,000 acres of hay and the excessive floor is making up for that loss.”
Jessica Torrion, an affiliate professor and the superintendent of the Northwestern Ag Analysis Heart at Montana State College, says the rain has usually not been unfavorable within the Flathead Valley up to now.
“Most of what I hear is that it’s optimistic within the farmland until the farms are actually low and get flooded.”
At Two Bear Farm in Whitefish, Todd and Rebecca Ullizio’s natural vegetable farm sits on a excessive water desk, and they’re not sure of what impacts the moisture can have on their crops.
Whereas there are 5 inches of standing water in some areas of their fields, all the crops sit on raised 6-inch beds and have up to now been unaffected.
“I’d say that is fairly uncommon,” Todd Ullizio mentioned. “However yearly it appears to be one thing, so it’s not too stunning. It’s primarily impacting us as a result of we develop greens, and we’re within the harvest season. In contrast to a grain grower, we’re harvesting 5 days every week and we’re having a tough time entering into the fields to reap or weed.”
Ullizio has been digging drainage ditches to maneuver extra water and he says they dug drain tile into the bottom after they first began farming on the property, utilizing an excavator to dig three-foot ditches and set up perforated pipes.
“Raised beds and drain tiles have saved us up to now,” Ullizio mentioned. “The primary concern is that plant roots must breathe and if that soil stays waterlogged, that well being will decline.”
Commodity crops like winter wheat, spring wheat and cereals are benefiting probably the most from the rain, Torrion says, and the timing has been excellent. However after the moisture, it’s vital for the temperatures to rise as a result of vegetation want hotter climate with a purpose to hit the reproductive stage.
Since Montana skilled a drought final yr, there was possible an allowance for moisture storage within the soil. If moisture is restricted throughout the summer time months, Torrion says the present rainfall will assist in the long term.
“I feel the bottom is in a a lot better place now after the drought final yr,” Torrion mentioned. “Our floor has a capability to retailer this moisture.”