Weather Delays Spring Planting in Wyoming

May 15, 2017 07:35 PM
Weather Delays Spring Planting in Wyoming

A lingering winter followed by wet weather has delayed planting of some crops in Wyoming.

"The spring started probably three weeks later than normal just because of the winter we had," said Fred Hopkin, a grower in the Penrose area southeast of Powell. "It was cold, we had a lot of snow, and it took a long while for that to go away."

When the snow finally melted, weekly rain or snowstorms forced farmers to stop planting.

"Every week, by Thursday or Friday, the ground was drying out and we were just getting a good momentum going. Then it would rain on Saturday or Sunday, and we'd have to wait again to get back out into the fields," Hopkin told the Powell Tribune.

On the bright side, barley was up and doing great, he said.

"It's basically grass, and grass loves water. It tends to thrive in cool, damp conditions," Hopkin said.

Alfalfa seed is planted after the barley is in; sugar beets are next.

"We typically finish planting beets by the 20th of April," Hopkin said Tuesday. "I just finished today."

The delay in sugar beets planting likely will mean less yield during harvest.

Corn is planted next, and beans come last. Both need plenty of hot weather and sunshine, and enough time to mature before the first freeze of the fall.

Jeremiah Vardiman, Park County educator for the University of Wyoming Extension, said about 37 percent of the beet crop has been planted statewide, where about 66 percent would be planted by this time in an average year.

The increased moisture leads to concerns about diseases in plants, particularly those caused by fungus, Vardiman said.

"Everybody is behind in weed control," he said. "The rain, wind and the frequency of the storms is providing limited opportunities for getting out in the field for weed control. "

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