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Too Early to Tell if Dry January Will Affect Summer Water Supply

2/11/2013

January precipitation was below normal across most of Idaho according to the latest water supply outlook report released last week by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The report shows the snowpack decreased by up to 30 percentage points from a month ago.

“If February is dry, the snowpack and streamflow percentages will decrease like they did in January,” said Ron Abramovich, NRCS Water Supply Specialist. “That could affect the water supply this summer.”

Currently, the snowpack ranges from a low of 75% to 128% of normal. Low elevation snowpacks that were below normal last month are still well below normal while higher elevation snow is in better shape and maintaining higher percentages.

“Most basins started the season with good soil moisture and snowpack conditions,” said Abramovich. “We’ve learned from the past that we can usually get by with one month of below normal precipitation, especially after a good start like this year. When we get two dry months in a row, negative impacts on the water supply start to occur.”

The report also shows streamflow forecasts decreased across most of the state, matching snowpack declines. Reservoir storage south of the Snake River is below average due to below normal runoff in 2012. However, elsewhere across the state reservoir storage is near average or above.

For more information about snowpack, precipitation, runoff, and water supplies for specific basins, please view the complete February 2013 Water Supply Outlook Report online at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.  

NRCS conducts snow surveys at the end of each month from December through May to make snow runoff predictions and water supply forecasts used in managing Idaho’s water resources.

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Growers’ help needed to improve crop insurance
Sprout damage from heavy rains in southern and eastern Idaho at the end of the 2014 growing season made evident the inadequacy of current crop insurance for wheat growers, which is based on yields and not quality.

USDA’s Risk Management Agency has expressed a willingness to make changes to the quality standard for wheat by addressing the low falling number scale, but the agency wants to address the issue nationwide and needs strong data to support any changes.
Growers can assist the effort by providing multiple years of settlement data, at least the last six years but preferable the last 10 to 12.

RMA does not need and would prefer not to receive growers’ names, addresses and tax ID numbers.

The data must contain: the year; county and state where the crop was grown (not sold/delivered); quality of production; gross price received; net payment (gross less any dockage, but not considering any storage or shipping fees); test weight; and protein.

In addition, the agency needs at least one of the following: DON/VOM; falling number; or other quality spec of interest.
Growers are asked to send info to Blaine Jacobson at blaine@idahowheat.org.