— By ROBERT S. MERRILL
It’s too early yet to hit the panic button about lack of snowfall and moisture in the northern end of Cache Valley. But officials say unless things change in coming weeks, there is a mounting cause for concern.
Lauritz Smith, water master for Twin Lakes Canal Company, said despite the dry fall and winter irrigation reservoirs that hold water for farmers are in good shape.
“Twin Lakes is 70 percent full. Condie is full and Winder stands at 55 percent. We are holding about three times the normal amount in these impoundments and will fill all three by late spring no matter what happens with the weather,” he said.
“But if we don’t get some significant moisture in the mountains and valley in coming weeks and this spring, it will be a matter of concern. The reservoirs only hold about 50 percent of the water our irrigators need each growing season.”
Alfalfa has gone dormant and winter wheat has done so to some extent, said Franklin County extension agent Stuart Parkinson. The lack of snow cover this winter hasn’t hurt these crops too much yet, he added.
“But they are vulnerable to some significant damage if we get really cold temperatures without snow. The snow insulates the crops and provides soil moisture as well,“ he said.
The lack of snow will have a more immediate impact on dryland crops, Parkinson continued.
“We had a pretty good soil-moisture profile this fall that helped germinate fall wheat. But the extremely dry December, with only .12 of an inch of total moisture, has put us in a deficit situation,” he said. “We need a change in the weather pattern. We need some water in coming weeks and this spring or we could be in trouble.”
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