TWIN FALLS — The exceptional amount of rain the Magic Valley has received this spring has left firefighters are farmers wondering what the summer will hold.
The Magic Valley received 50% more rain already this May than 2018 and could experience showers into June as a low-pressure system works it way through the region, said forecaster Les Colin at the National Weather Service in Boise. Of the 1.51 inches of rain in the area this month, 1.49 inches fell between May 15 and May 22.
Forest fire season could be delayed by the rain but it depends on what happens after the current weather passes, said Kelsey Brizendine, of the Bureau of Land Management in Shoshone.
“The water is not going to stick around forever,” she said. “By October I could tell you about how the wet spring affected fire season.”
Farmers aren’t too worried about the unexpected downpour.
Fields had previously dried up and some farmers were “scrambling on water,” said Larry Hollifield, who farms near Hansen. Excess rain has allowed Milner Irrigation District, the sprinkler system contractor in Twin Falls used by Hollifield, to stop pumping and conserve water through Tuesday.
But the recent weather has delayed planting certain crops and kept farmers out of fields, which could impact harvest, he said.
“We’ve benefited, now it’s time to stop,” Hansen said. “The later we plant, the less yield we get.”
Farmers are held up more than they’d like with planting and fertilizing, but it’s not “the end of the world” quite yet, said Joel Packham, a farm production educator at the University of Idaho extension in Cassia County.
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“We like to live here because we like to control the water,” Packham said. “Today we don’t get to control the water.”
However, if forecasters are right and the rain continues into June, it becomes a bigger deal, and harvest could be further delayed, he said.
“That’s not going to be good,” Packham said. “The longer this goes on the worse this gets.”
Local fruit orchards could face a similar problem.
The way fruit ripens is dependent on the weather, said Robin Kelley of Kelley’s Canyon Orchard.
“It’s not the water that becomes the problem, it’s the lack of sunlight,” she said. “We just need clear, sunny days.”
Certain diseases and fungi could become more prevalent with the additional moisture, said Andy West, a horticulture educator at the University of Idaho extension in Twin Falls.
“They can just take off,” he said. “There is a chance we might see some of the diseases we normally don’t deal with.”
Kelley mentioned similar concerns, but said wind has helped to keep her orchards dry and healthy.