Western Drought Takes Toll As Some Get Too Much H2O

Western Ag Vignettes

Some benefit from moisture while others see hit on crops.

Published on: July 16, 2013

Consider this part 2 of the great western drought/water diversity blog.

Last week I lamented on the fact that although places like eastern Colorado were suffering from crop-killing drought, others in the Northwest had too much rain.

A new Northwest Farm Credit Services report just crossing my desk underscored the weather diversity in the west, triggering me to write a little more about the topic.

May and June rains helped some, hurt others, according to Northwest's report. Dryland farmers in Montana, Washington and Northern Idaho had a "strong boost in yield potential," the  co-op bank notes. Nevertheless, the untimely rain caused widespread damage to first-cutting hay in the Pacific Northwest, and hit the cherry crop with substantial losses (see a story on this Friday in our www.FarmProgress.com  website daily news story.)

While highlighting the rain situation in its report, Northwest goes on to tell us how most of the crops in the West are faring right now. Here's their readout:

Beef: Mixed market signals right now. Lackluster beef demand is a problem. Feeder cattle didn't rally earlier this year as they normally would, but most cow/calf and stocker operations remain profitable, says Northwest.

Dairy: Northwest predicts profits will mend in the second half of 2013. Corn and soybean prices remain high, but if that predicted large corn crop come  true, prices could go down.

Hay Northwestern farmers could enjoy price hikes this year due to supply tightness.

There is lots more from Northwest you can glean from their Market Snapshots at northwestfcs.com/resources.

Good to know that resources like Northwest are letting us know what they see happening in real-time scenarios. Helps us to keep pace with reality in our marketplace from the perspective of those who don't view the world through rose-colored spectacles.

Crystal balls usually project cloudy images unless those reading them are very close to the subject, and we can respect the extremely tight affiliation of  farm credit bank to the industry. That gives projections the aura of greater probability than those coming from organizations less close to the everyday facts of our industry.

I kind of look at crop projections partly as a fortune telling experience. That's because so much must be taken into consideration, such as whether competitive foreign crops will fail or soar. Also there is always weather, the great equalizer in farming. Everyone contends  with it, but does anyone really know what's coming? Nature is a fickle mother.

In a stretch of a related topic, I learned this week more about the similarities of drought and wildfire in taking away ones livelihood. Both involve dryness, of course, but not until now did I tie the real connection between the two conflagrations. It is simply a matter of a tinderbox turning into a furnace, isn't it?

And, speaking of wildfires, we should all take a moment to think about the loss of those brave firefighters from Prescott, Ariz. It is a tragedy beyond my realm of comprehension which is etched for always in my mind.