record hay crop

Hay bales are lined up close together on Bill and Amy Meighan's property in Bothwell recently. The Meighans got 440 bales out of four acres.

When Bill and Amy Meighan moved to Bothwell five years ago, they were overwhelmed by the support from their new neighbors.

Everyone in the neighborhood showed up offering to help them move in, and when the home was built and they were ready to get a hay crop going on their five-acre spread, people were lined up offering to share water, seeds, fertilizer, and expertise gained from generations of cultivating the land.

They got seeds and fertilizer from local suppliers, and when their first crop failed, those suppliers replaced the supplies free of charge for a second try, which was a success.

“The next time, everybody was here from IFA, Western Seeds, and all the local farmers,” Amy Meighan said. “Everybody shared water with us until we got our own system going, gave us shares to use — it was wonderful.”

That spirit of generosity, combined with ideal weather conditions, has helped the Meighans grow their best hay crop ever. They recently got 440 bales out of just four acres, and a local man who cuts and bales the hay for them said it was likely the best yield per acre that he’s ever seen in the area.

“He said we broke a record,” Amy said. “I think someone’s watching over us.”

The Meighans aren’t the only ones reaping the rewards after a winter and spring that not only brought an abundance of water to local fields, but delivered it in steady doses over a prolonged period, which has helped avoid the flooding problems like those that have been plaguing farmers in many southern states this year.

Mike Pace, USU Extension director for Box Elder County, said the extra rain has been beneficial for growers of hay and wheat, even though it has caused some delays in planting and harvesting.

“With hay, it didn’t grow as quick and people had to cut a little bit later, but the yields have been looking really good,” Pace said.

The extra water has also been a boon for ranchers, especially following a dry year in 2018.

“Last year was a tough year for them,” Pace said. “It didn’t look good. They didn’t have a lot of feed out there. This year the grasses have been looking really, really good.”

He said some crops, like onions, don’t do as well when the weather is cooler and wetter than normal. Some farmers have switched acreage from onions to corn, which is also coming on a bit late because of the weather.

“We might be down a little bit on yields,” Pace said. “Now that we’re getting warmer days and nights, it depends on if we can make up some days in July and August.”

He said corn growers are likely to get higher prices for their product this year as demand starts to catch up with supply. That could mean higher prices for consumers, “but we’re not at a critical stage or anything like that right now.”

Fruit crops have avoided the late frosts that come in some years, and cherry and apricot harvests are beginning in earnest now. It’s also looking like there could be a bumper crop of peaches later this summer.

“There were so many blossoms on the peach trees, they look like clusters of grapes,” he said. “People are going to have to do some thinning.”

With reservoirs still filling up and snowmelt still coming down from the mountains, Pace said 2019 is looking like a strong year all around for agricultural producers.

“Overall, things look good,” he said.