Record rainfall is good news for growers

Deb Hill
News-Argus Managing Editor

Families enjoy a sunny Tuesday after Monday’s record precipitation dried out some, allowing children enjoy the playground equipment in Frank Day Park.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

Torrential rainfall hit the area Sunday and Monday but the result may be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for farmers and hay growers.

According to the National Weather Service in Great Falls, Monday’s accumulation of 1.43 inches of rain set an all-time record for the date.

“The former record for July 11 was 1.02 inches set in 1948,” said Meteorologist Keith Jaszka. “All together over the two days, Lewistown received 2.13 inches.”

Areas around Lewistown saw a little more or less than that, but all readings were close to 2 inches total for the storm.

“This system moved into the area from the Pacific Northwest,” Jaszka said. “Another disturbance will move down from the Canadian prairies later this week.”

Jaszka said it was a little early to tell, but the Canadian front did not appear to be carrying as much moisture as the storm that hit Sunday evening.


Moisture great for crops

The effect of the storm and moisture surge is good news for agriculture, according to MSU Extension Agent Darren Crawford.

“It depends on the crop, but the moisture is just what we needed for the spring and warm weather crops,” Crawford said. “The winter wheat is almost finished, and this could delay harvest. But otherwise it is good news.”

Crawford said spring crops such as spring wheat; barley, peas and chickpeas should do wonderfully as a result of the moisture.

“Have you heard the term ‘the crop is made’?” Crawford asked? “It means there is enough moisture in the soil now that even if we don’t get any more, it is enough to finish the crops.”

So far this has been a cooler summer than predicted, Crawford said, and warm weather crop production depends on both rain and heat.

“For people growing tomatoes, squash, or corn, we need some warmer nights, about 60 degrees and up, to get a good crop,” Crawford said. “But the moisture does help, and it’s also good for crops such as millet and sorghum.”

Hay growers will appreciate the moisture as some will get a second cutting in hayfields that were otherwise done for the year.

“Most of the hay is baled already, and for hay that was cut and lying in windrows, this rain won’t do much damage,” Crawford said, “especially if the weather dries out for a few days.”

The rain may also rejuvenate native grasses and improve range condition for livestock and wildlife alike. The moisture will “refill the soil profile” and allow range grasses to regrow. Crawford said going into the fall with grass in good condition means better pastures next year.

All in all, Crawford said the rain was much needed and puts most producers in a good position going into the fall.

“It is absolutely good news,” Crawford said.




Where is your favorite place to go camping in Central Montana?