Dry winter leaves farms thirsty

Oregon farmers and ranchers worry about irrigation after a relatively dry winter.

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This winter’s snowpack level was 50% to 85% of normal throughout the state, leaving farmers and ranchers worried about irrigation in the upcoming dry months.

The snowpack’s water content was also well below normal, creating a vexing problem for agriculture, the state’s second-leading economic sector.

Despite the state’s wet reputation, nearly 45% of Oregon farms irrigate some or all of their land, about 2 million acres statewide. Irrigated farms produce about 77% of the state’s crop value, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Melting snow feeds the state’s rivers and streams and fills reservoirs, providing water for the summer months.

“Generally, the situation is pretty dire if you rely on snowpack for your irrigation water,” said Don Horneck with Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Read the full story at OregonLive.com.

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