Interior crops suffer from dry spring

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) The dry spring has taken a toll on the hay crop in the Tanana Valley.

''Everything this spring was drought stressed,'' said Phil Kaspari, district agent for the Delta office of the Cooperative Extension Service.

Of the roughly 10,000 acres of hay in the area, Kaspari graded 20 percent as poor, 50 percent as fair and 30 percent as good.

''Good'' equated to about half a ton per acre with top yields at 1 ton an average yield in a year with good weather.

In areas where rain was more abundant during the growing season and less of an issue during baling, some 1 ton yields were taken off the fields, he said.

''It's just a limited supply at this point,'' said Kaspari, who raises hay.

Farmers have spread fertilizer on fields to help a second cutting later in the summer, but that is unlikely to make up for the lackluster first cutting. The second cutting averages 75 percent of the first cutting.

Kaspari's report also forecasts a lackluster year for the 4,000-plus acres of barley near Delta Junction. He judged 30 percent of the crop in mid-July as poor, 50 percent as fair and 20 percent good. Again, the lack of moisture in May and June put a crimp in plant production.

''The barley crop was definitely stressed before we started getting rain,'' Kaspari said. He anticipates the barley crop averaging 20 to 25 bushels per acre, compared to a good crop at 40 bushels per acre and an excellent crop at 50.

The oat crop was rated about the same as the barley.

Potatoes are less susceptible to drought early in the season, and there is hope that crop will be better thanks to the degree days accrued under the summer sun, Kaspari said.

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