WEATHER

Floods Ruin Most of Sod Farmers’ Crops

Jul 17, 2018, 10:46 PM | Updated: Jul 18, 2018, 1:36 am

RICHFIELD, Utah – There is no doubt we all need water. Just ask any farmer.

“We pray for water every day,” said Kirk Harris while looking out on a field full of dirt. “Usually, it’s all lush green grass.”

Kirk Harris

Harris, who owns All American sod farm in Richfield, says the drought this year has made things tough.

Most of the farmers he knows in Sevier County are facing water challenges.

“All the farmers around here have already used up their water supply,” he said. “Because of the drought this year, we were already working with 30-percent of our normal water situation.”

Mud covering sod farm

That’s why he was excited when he heard rain was coming this past weekend.

“We were looking forward to it. Farmers need water to survive, for sure,” said Harris.

Saturday, the rain started falling and falling. And then it fell some more. It seemed as if it wasn’t going to stop.

Debris covering sod farm

“This storm is actually one of the biggest ones I’ve seen in 50 years. A lot of the old timers, in 75 years, they haven’t seen anything this big,” said Harris.

The water came down the mountain, filled canals with boulders, and buried about 90-percent of his crops in mud and silt. In some places, the mud was 3 feet deep.

Drainage ditch cleared

“No, that’s not good for business,” said Harris. “We’re talking, probably, a million dollars worth of inventory and a million dollars in labor in getting everything back to the way that it was.”

Even for a farmer, there is such a thing as too much water.

“It’s bad. The problem with sod is it takes a whole year to get a crop. If we plant today, it would be next July before we could harvest,” said Harris.

Janelle Turner kneeling

Before even thinking of reseeding, though, first he had to get rid of all the mud on his farm.

That’s where his friends and neighbors come in.

They spent Tuesday evening moving pipe off the farm and removing debris out of drainage canals in case it rains again.

“Anything we can do to try and help out, it’s definitely worth it,” said Janelle Turner, who is a neighbor of the Harris family.

Water

The thing is, though, this loss is out of his pocket. He has tried in years past, but he could never get insurance.

“It’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “The government just said no. There’s not really insurance for sod farms. I mean, I would love to hear if there was, but, I don’t know of any insurance for sod farms.”

Moving pipe

However, that’s an issue for later. For now, he says, there’s too much work to do.

“We’re fighters and we’re going to fight through it, but it’s going to be difficult for sure,” said Harris.

Dealing with difficulties is what farmers are used to.

“This is what we do. We love it,” said Harris. “So, we’ll try to put it back together again.”

Equipment buried by water Sprinkler lines in mud Friends helping remove pipe Mud covering sod farm Kirk Harris Deep mud on sod farm Debris covering sod farm Drainage ditch cleared Water Moving pipe Janelle Turner kneeling
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Floods Ruin Most of Sod Farmers’ Crops