Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

April snow hits Walla; farmers optimistic

Instead of April showers, Walla Walla and surrounding areas in eastern Washington were treated to April snowfall this past week.

“We had hail this afternoon,” said Prescott resident Jean Thomas, owner of Hillcrest Farms. “I was driving and I could barely see.”

“I’m still sunburned from a couple of weekends ago and now it’s snowing,” said senior Deanna Lucini.
The National Weather Service reported that this is the latest winter weather in Washington in many years. The snow has proved a boon to some ski resorts and will result in strong runoff in the summer, but has also been pinpointed as the cause of many traffic accidents.

Though low temperatures can threaten to freeze crops, Crop Consultant Randall Montgomery of Blue Mountain Growers in Milton-Freewater said that his fruit crops have escaped much of the damage suffered by nearby farms to the north.

“Everyone around us is hurting,” he said. “It has been cooler than normal. We received damage early Good Friday weekend when it got really cold for a few days in a row. We’ve had people run wind machines and water to protect the fruit from freezing. It’s a little bit more work, but not a major issue.”

Montgomery expects a good year for his cherry, prune, plum and apple crops.

Thomas said her wheat crops have also emerged unscathed, despite setbacks.

“We were slowed down when we were spraying for weeds. We’re concerned, but the wind hasn’t frozen the crops this year and we haven’t had hail damage this year,” she said. “We do need warmer weather.”

State-wide, on April 6, spring wheat planting was 35 percent done, compared with a previous five-year average of 49 percent, according the government’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“I don’t think [the weather is] a permanent deal. It changes year to year,” Montgomery said.

“We’ve been in the farming business for a long time,” Thomas said. “It seems like every year you never know what’s going to happen.”

Indeed, other threats: including a newly-discovered soil-borne wheat virus in the Walla Walla County: pose different dangers to local agriculture.

“It’s still early in the ballgame, we still have rain, but so far so good,” Montgomery said.

Rain is predicted in Walla Walla through the end of the week.

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