USDA: Rain in SLV benefitting agriculture

Photos Mechel Meek The rain across the San Luis Valley this summer has been mostly beneficial to local agriculture, according to the USDA.

SAGUACHE COUNTY — The weather continues to affect agriculture in both positive and negative ways in the San Luis Valley and Colorado this year.

According to the USDA report on crop progress for the week of July 25, “In the San Luis Valley, heavy precipitation and flooding was noted. County reports mentioned no crop damage from flooding was noted, but some rangeland showed marginal damage and was expected to recover. Isolated hail and rain were enough to delay hay harvest.”

Also, according to the USDA, a positive result of the storms is that the amount of rainfall has been sufficient to maintain the necessary soil moisture in the topsoil and subsoil in potato, alfalfa and grain fields.

In 2020, per the USDA, the soil moisture in the San Luis Valley was short for most of the year, which dictated a necessary increased reliance on irrigation in 2020 to maintain optimal crop growth.

According to the Colorado Potato Committee Market Report, “the shipments for Monday, July 26, 2021, were 134 loads. There were 134 trucks and 0 rail from the shipments, 50 were bulk loads, of which 0 were seed.

  • July 2021 loads (to date): 2,049
  • July 2020 loads (to date): 1,530

The market report shows an increase in potato shipments as compared to last year. This year, 42 percent of the San Luis Valley potato fields were in good condition with 30 percent of pasture and range in good condition.

With the unusually strong storms creating flash flooding and hail throughout Saguache County and the San Luis Valley at large, it was expected that there would be damage to some crops.

However, that has not been seen except in some rangeland areas and in some delays harvesting alfalfa fields.

Many areas in Colorado are still experiencing drought conditions and extreme heat which has led to a loss of crops and livestock. Luckily, the San Luis Valley has avoided these types of issues so far this year.