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Crop yields are expected to be down across Idaho

After setting records last year due to ideal growing conditions, yields for crops like wheat and barley are down significantly this year
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:39 PM MDT
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Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Idaho producers are out in the field harvesting and getting a glimpse into what their crop production is going to look like this season, after dealing with severe heat and drought conditions this summer. Due to the conditions across Idaho, this year has been a tough one for producers in the Magic Valley.

“Personally in my time I have never seen that amount of heat, that early, and that drawn out,” said Twin Falls County farmer Larry Hollifield. “I have never seen anything like that. It will be one we remember for quite a while.”

After setting records last year due to ideal growing conditions, yields for crops like wheat and barley are down significantly this year according to the USDA. Spring and Winter wheat production is expected to be down more than 20 percent. Barley is forecasted to be down 36 percent. The only major crops expected to see higher yields are sugar beets and corn. Corn yields are expected to be up by 9 bushels per acre.

“I’m hearing the potatoes are a little off. They don’t like the heat we have experienced this summer,” Hollifield said.

With the recent stretch of cooler temperatures throughout the day and very little moisture, Hollifield said one positive right now is conditions for harvesting are ideal for producers.

“With moisture, the hay doesn’t dry. The beans don’t dry. The machines can’t get through the field,” said Hollifield. “Rain, we just want it to stay away until we get a lot of crops harvested, and then we will take it.”

However, with low yields, producers are being compensated with high crop prices. According to the USDA, the price of premium alfalfa hay is up more than 40 percent from this time last year.

“It is kind of crazy how high it is for low-quality hay,” Hollifield said.

Harvest season will be wrapping up soon, and some producers are already thinking about what to plant next year because they don’t know if there is going to be adequate water this winter.

“I had one grower asking me today do I go with small grains or barley next year, or do I use alfalfa instead and hope I can get it established,” said Jared Spackman, who is an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho.

Hollifield said he thinks a lot of producers might make a push toward planting small grains that require a lot less water.

KMVT’s Chief Meteorologist Eric Brill said things are pointing toward it being a wetter than normal winter, but he’s not ready to put any money on it just yet.

“All you need is for it to be dry again for a month and we saw that all last winter obviously when that was suppose to be a near-average winter,” said Brill. “We had one snowstorm that was really relevant.”

Hollifield said he anticipates the talk over the winter for producers will be all about moisture, and how much are they going to get.

“There is as good of odds as it being bad, as of odds of it being great,” Hollifield said.

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