Storm delivers good and bad news for northern Colorado farmers, ranchers
Sugar beet farmers will be able to get back into the fields in the next day or two and harvest what crop is left, but this week’s storm put the corn harvest back once again.
And the moisture the storm brought was ideal for Weld County’s winter wheat farmers, who planted next year’s crop earlier this fall. They depend on Mother Nature to supply moisture and this week’s storm did nothing but improve that situation going into next spring when the crop comes out of dormancy and begins growing for the mid-summer harvest.
But the storm also caused some problems for cattlemen, especially in the northeast corner of Weld.
Jim Mertens, who farms and ranches southwest of New Raymer, said he had several cows and calves bunch up against a fence during the storm and when the fence broke under the pressure, they took off.
“Up north there’s a bunch of cows, but they aren’t ours, so we’re going to have a few days of sorting ahead of us,” Mertens said. The good news was that it didn’t get cold enough to hurt the cattle, and by mid-morning Friday he had dug out around his house in order to feed livestock that were nearby.
Fortunately, he got all his wheat planted and his corn harvest was done Monday.
“We didn’t get an awful lot of snow, but it’s stuck pretty good on the fields, especially those no-till fields, so that will be good for the wheat,” he said.
Randy Schwalm, who farms north of Windsor, said Friday it will be at least two weeks before he can start harvesting his corn, but the good news was he finished his beets prior to the storm moving in. He said he got at least half an inch of rain Tuesday before the snow moved in Wednesday and Thursday.
The storm left anywhere from an inch to upwards of 3 inches of precipitation along the Front Range and out into the plains. At the University of Northern Colorado, 1.4 inches of precipitation was recorded running the month’s total to more than 2 inches. The average for October is about .9 of an inch; the year’s total is now more than 18.5 inches compared to the long-term average of 12.9 inches.
UNC recorded 12 inches of snow and anywhere from 5 inches to 15 inches was recorded around Weld.
“It’s going to be awhile before we can get (the corn) out, but at least I can see the field across the road this morning,” Schwalm said with a laugh. That certainly wasn’t the case during the height of the snow storm, which caused some worry that the winds would knock the corn down.
“I got out (Thursday) afternoon, and I didn’t see much down,” he said.
Weld farmers are fairing much better than their counterparts to the north and into the Midwest. The beet crop in northeastern Wyoming has frozen and the Western Sugar Cooperative and Wyoming Sugar are trying to deal with that.
“You can process frozen beets, but you can’t store them,” Schwalm said, noting some of his neighbors still have beets in the ground, but the temperature hasn’t dropped enough for a long period of time to freeze them in the ground.
Mertens said he took a bus load of FFA members from the Prairie School in New Raymer back to Indianapolis for the National FFA Convention.
“We went out through Kansas and came back through Iowa, and I don’t think we saw anymore than four combines in corn fields. A lot of that corn back there is still green, it’s been so wet,” he said.
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