Melting snow has triggered some erosion on cropland in north-central Idaho's grain belt and revealed some winterkill, but the extent of damage remains unclear.
"It's still early to tell how much, if any, cold damage there is," said Ben Barstow, county agent for crops in Lewis and Idaho counties.Most of the crops survived the cold snap of below-zero temperatures in late December and early January, said Larry Smith, county agent in Nez Perce County. He expects regrowth to rejuvenate crops clipped by the cold, which would fill in much of the winter wheat when warm weather arrives.
The worst damage appears to be limited to the east sides of hills and hill tops, said Tim Miller, county agent in Latah County. Talk about reseeding is premature, he said.
Smith said he has seen some irreversible damage to winter barley. He suggested farmers may consider replanting spring barley.
The runoff from melting snow may not have cut the deep ravines of years past, but "rill" erosion with many small channels on hillsides, continued to wash out large amounts of dirt, said Glenn Shea of the Soil Conservation Service office in Moscow.
The worst appeared to have happened between Lapwai and Culdesac, he said.
The Camas Prairie around Cottonwood seems to have been spared much of the erosion because of lighter snowfall and less steep terrain.
Kenneth Houska of the SCS in Moscow said farmers' practice of leaving more crop residue in the fields after harvest has helped cut down erosion.