Late winter a relief for many Utah farmers

Feb 21, 2018, 8:34 PM | Updated: 8:40 pm

CACHE COUNTY – His pastures covered in white, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Joe Fuhriman said for once all is well this winter.

Only days ago, he was growing concerned his hay crops might start coming in early; a problem many farmers to the south were already dealing with.

“Wouldn’t have been long, with temperatures in the 50s,” Fuhriman said. “But it got cold enough at night that nothing started to grow.”

The early spring we experienced just last week wasn’t all bad, Fuhriman said. He was saving money on hay, since cows eat more during colder times, so that their digestive systems can help keep them warm. Still, he is grateful for the change that came with a recent snowstorm.

Joe Fuhriman scoops hay for some yearling calves, at his farm on the Elkhorn Ranch.

“We’ve got the snow we need, and if we get more, that’s even better,” Fuhriman said. “We should have had a winter earlier in January, but we’ll take it now.”

While the colder temperatures will now keep his hay crop dormant until a real spring arrives, he said other cattlemen in the area are facing challenges, as many are in the middle of calving season. There’s a greater risk of losing the newborns in the freezing weather. In addition, he points out that if the cold stays too long, it could damage his hay crop.

“The longer it stays, then the chances of it turning off too hot, too soon are more likely,” Fuhriman explained. “We’re far enough into the spring now. This probably won’t stay with us, hopefully, for too much longer.”

Fuhriman also said the unusual temperatures Cache County saw just days ago are an example of the unpredictable conditions he’s seen in recent years.

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Late winter a relief for many Utah farmers