Wheat and barley production in Utah is suffering the same plight as in the drought-plagued Midwest, but irrigation has saved most other crops in the Beehive State, farm statistics show.
The Utah Agricultural Statistics Service's crop forecasts, released Friday, predict a 22 percent cut in wheat and a 15 percent drop in barley. A 2 percent drop in corn production is expected, as is a 3 percent rise in hay and a 12 percent increase in oats.Nationally, grain production will be cut by a third due to extremely dry conditions in the Midwest, the U.S. Agriculture Department announced.
In Utah, "most of that (drop) would be dryland," Utah Farm Bureau spokesman Tom Bingham said.
Most Utah crops are irrigated, but many of the state's wheat and barley farms are dependent on precipitation. Typically, dryland farm acreage sits fallow accumulating moisture one year and a crop is planted the next year, but this year's dry weather has thrown that schedule into disarray, he said.
Still, "I've not heard of any farmer losing a complete crop. There may have been some, but I haven't heard of any large operations experiencing a total crop failure," Bingham said.
The state's dryland farms are centered in Box Elder and Cache counties, he said.
Fruit production also will be down this year.
"Frost and cool, moist weather at the critical spring pollination time, coupled with the cyclical nature of fruit production, resulted in sharply lower tart cherry, apple and pear crops," said chief statistician Del Gneiting.
Tart cherries are estimated at 12 million pounds, down 59 percent from last year's record high; apple production is forecast at 42 million pounds, down 38 percent from another record high last year; and pears are forecast at 2,200 tons, off 39 percent.
Apricots will be up nine 9 percent, while sweet cherries will match last year's level, "but sweet cherry growers in the state have not enjoyed a good production year since 1984," said Mr. Gneiting.
Bingham said much of this year's drop in production is due to natural cycles.