Utah rainstorms bring hope to farmers, ranchers after dry winter

Posted at 8:31 PM, May 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-19 22:31:59-04

SPRINGVILLE, Utah - The rainstorms the past week and a half have been a blessing for Utah's agriculture industry. Hydrologists are calling them "million-dollar rains."

"The rains have just been fantastic to come at this time of year," said Calvin Crandall, a Springville cattle rancher.

Springville farmer Jake Harward said he is surprised by the amount precipitation northern Utah is receiving.

"We were expecting a dry, hot summer, and so far, we've had a pretty cool and wet spring," Harward said.

Because of the drought, Crandall said, he was concerned about feeding his cattle.

"It's tough to find feed when such a huge region is dry, it's hard to find feed close to home. It takes a lot of freight to move your animals to a place that has feed," he said.

But now his fears are disappearing. Hydrologist Randy Julander said storms like these can be enough to irrigate farmland for several months.

"That is enough water to get them through a basically almost a harvestable crop," Julander said.

Julander said while the rains don't make up for the lack of winter snow to fill the reservoirs, it is enough to keep people from watering, which he says saves a lot of water.

"Nobody has to water this week, nobody has to water next week. Most people aren't going to have to water the week after. That's like three weeks of no water use," the hydrologist said.

Harward and Crandall say if it wasn't for the recent rain, their situation would be dire.

"Depending on the crop, our fruits and vegetables basically could not grow without the irrigation or the dry summer," Harward said.

Crandall said some ranchers he knows thought they would be forced to sell some of their cattle.

"Some guys were looking at selling off animals," Crandall said. "If we can keep the rain coming, they won't have to sell animals."

Farmers say they hope the rain continues through the growing season.