Utah farmers prepare for possible hard freeze overnight

Sep 20, 2021, 6:30 PM | Updated: 9:35 pm

BENSON, Utah — Already hit hard by the drought, Utah farmers are now preparing for a hard freeze Monday night.

It’s not unusual for that freeze to happen right about now, but after facing such a hot, dry summer, a lot of farmers said they’re hoping to extend the season a bit and make up for some of those losses.

If they can get through the night, that might just work out.

Crops at the Johnson Family farm this year aren’t going quite as well as Braydon Johnson would like.

“Normally, these tomatoes start turning red in July, and they still have mostly green tomatoes,” he said.

So far, he’s only been able to harvest less than a tenth of the field of tomatoes.

“Crops didn’t grow quite as strong and quite as fast this year, just because we’re short on water, and so, yeah, it will be nice just to stretch crops just a little bit longer,” said Johnson.

The worst year he and a whole lot of farmers have ever seen is the reason why Johnson Family Farms is among those trying to squeeze some more days out of the season.

“If we can get past this one, it looks like we’re going to be warm for the next ten days,” said Johnson.

Braydon Johnson

He’s a fourth generation producer on the family farm in Benson.

He knows to expect a freeze around this time in the Cache Valley, but he said he’s hopeful they can maybe, just barely, avoid it Monday night.

“There’s guys that are still chopping corn silage, and frost can reduce the quality of the corn silage if it gets frozen too hard,” said Johnson.

On top of the water shortage, Johnson said the scarcity of labor has also added to their struggles at the farm.

“There’s more people around, but less people that want to do this kind of work,” he said. “Ideally, these pumpkins would have been out last Saturday, if labor wasn’t such a challenge.”

How things go Monday night could determine whether get a couple more weeks, or if the harvest on some of their vegetables comes to a halt.  

“We might stay above freezing, which would be great,” said Johnson.

According to the Cache County Farm Bureau, the Johnsons aren’t alone in this.

Some hay farmers even planted late crops, hoping to extend the season, but that can get risky, especially if they lose a lot of it Monday night.

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Utah farmers prepare for possible hard freeze overnight