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Old 01-29-2013, 09:56 AM
 
16,522 posts, read 20,961,579 times
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Where I live here in the Grand Junction area for the most part our radio programming is the same old stuff; set playlists for the genres of music, usual talk radio with the nationwide yakkers. With the exception of KAFM we get very little talk about community and state issues. But I picked up some info lately from a friend of mine who lives south of Durango and also a thread in the Wyoming forum that got my attention. Also our brief 2 hour talk program on KNZZ on Sunday.

And the subject was the headline in Saturday's Denver Post-"Ag economy awaits Spring." It does not paint a pretty picture here at all. And one sentence says it all here; "Without some relief, Colorado risks more wildfires, another crop disaster, and a stalled state economy." Nolan Doesken, a state climatologist, has some blunt commentary regarding the problems that we have here. Last year, 62 out of 64 Colorado counties were declared crop disasters by the governor.

And it appears to me that all the agricultural people can do here is have a wait and see attitude. Well, considering the warm weather the front range has been experiencing lately, I shudder to think of the possibility of a repeat summer. My friend who lives south of Durango works for his dad on a good old fashioned working ranch (yes, there are still a few of them left in La Plata county, they're a mile away from Bondad). I remember him telling me about some of the costs of doing business, and one item got my attention from him. He told me the cost of hay was coming in at $250 a ton.

Fast forward to now. According to the Post article AND from what I read on one of the threads in the Wyoming state forum, ("Hay Production, now we know"), the cost now is over $300 a ton. Is there any end in sight to this? I don't want to even think about long term here.

Over the next couple days the high country is under a winter storm warning. I worry about the plains as much as the mountain snow pack, or maybe lack of. True, it's still late January, but I am feeling pretty uneasy about what's coming down the line come summer. I'd like to hear from some of the eastern slope people here. La Junta Econ Devel is one who always provides some good info here. LJED, what's happening in southeast Colorado? What's the long range forecast among the farming people?

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 01-29-2013 at 10:15 AM..
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Pueblo - Colorado's Second City
12,177 posts, read 21,010,558 times
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The Pueblo Chieftain ran a similar article on the lack of precipitation and how it will effect southern Colorado. So far Pueblo is not going to have any water restrictions but according to the Gazette Colorado Springs is. Pueblo will, also, keep its water leases this summer as well. It will be interesting to see what happens this spring as we need a lot more snow.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:48 AM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
6,550 posts, read 10,254,632 times
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I'd love to see the Eastern Plains just get walloped with snow over the next 2-3 months to help break us out of the drought, but for me the bigger concern is the leeward side of the mountains east of the divide. Even if those watersheds experience near-normal snowpack it still won't be enough. Thankfully, the big ridge in the jet stream finally pulled back to the west a bit putting us in a better storm track.

Hard to believe that just 2 years ago the peaks of the northern Front Range had visible snow almost all summer.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:12 AM
 
103 posts, read 351,623 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
Where I live here in the Grand Junction area for the most part our radio programming is the same old stuff; set playlists for the genres of music, usual talk radio with the nationwide yakkers. With the exception of KAFM we get very little talk about community and state issues. But I picked up some info lately from a friend of mine who lives south of Durango and also a thread in the Wyoming forum that got my attention. Also our brief 2 hour talk program on KNZZ on Sunday.

And the subject was the headline in Saturday's Denver Post-"Ag economy awaits Spring." It does not paint a pretty picture here at all. And one sentence says it all here; "Without some relief, Colorado risks more wildfires, another crop disaster, and a stalled state economy." Nolan Doesken, a state climatologist, has some blunt commentary regarding the problems that we have here. Last year, 62 out of 64 Colorado counties were declared crop disasters by the governor.

And it appears to me that all the agricultural people can do here is have a wait and see attitude. Well, considering the warm weather the front range has been experiencing lately, I shudder to think of the possibility of a repeat summer. My friend who lives south of Durango works for his dad on a good old fashioned working ranch (yes, there are still a few of them left in La Plata county, they're a mile away from Bondad). I remember him telling me about some of the costs of doing business, and one item got my attention from him. He told me the cost of hay was coming in at $250 a ton.

Fast forward to now. According to the Post article AND from what I read on one of the threads in the Wyoming state forum, ("Hay Production, now we know"), the cost now is over $300 a ton. Is there any end in sight to this? I don't want to even think about long term here.

Over the next couple days the high country is under a winter storm warning. I worry about the plains as much as the mountain snow pack, or maybe lack of. True, it's still late January, but I am feeling pretty uneasy about what's coming down the line come summer. I'd like to hear from some of the eastern slope people here. La Junta Econ Devel is one who always provides some good info here. LJED, what's happening in southeast Colorado? What's the long range forecast among the farming people?
Double H: Not ignoring your post and thanks for asking. Will weigh in on the thread, but want to make sure I am not sending out misinformation. I will check sale barns stats, etc about herd sales vs. the last few years; that will be a good indicator from the ranch side about how they perceive things. Will also get out to some of the cantaloupe/chili farmers for their perspective. My personal opinion is that the prognosis is not good, but you have to remember, we live among the optimistic breed of gamblers around... the farmers and ranchers. Ironically, I am wearing a tie today with "hard way eights" (2 fours) on it....hoping that the weather will deliver a hard way bet of a lot of moisture today. (So far, just a skiff with little moisture, but better than a poke in the eye.)

Without a doubt, this end of the Arkanasas Valley depends on agriculture for its life blood and it has always come through. A dry winter in the mountains could present a challenging spring/summer for the irrigated land farmer, and a dry winter on the plains could devastate the rancher if no grass breaks ground in the spring and holds through summer.

More later when I have better and more informed opinions than mine!

Last edited by la junta econ devel; 01-29-2013 at 11:14 AM.. Reason: Can't spell, can't type...tough to get old!
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:43 PM
 
Location: Bend Or.
1,126 posts, read 2,456,760 times
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The current snow packs are not good. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but So far it looks rough. I have lived in eastern Colorado or the front range for about 40 years and my perception is droughts are much more common and severe than they used to be. You have to remember Eastern Colorado is an arid climate, but serious water problems are much more common.

That and the runup of all Farm commodity prices are probably a double edge sword to ranching.
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Old 01-29-2013, 01:42 PM
 
13,312 posts, read 25,542,533 times
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If Big Ag in the Midwest gets all kinds of subsidies and price supports (never mind Wall Street...) why can't there be subsidies or price limits or whatever economic mechanisms there are when businesses need to use so much more hay, and/or crops are failing because of drought? Isn't that part of the cost of drought? Am I being uninformed or no?
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,802 posts, read 9,467,884 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
And it appears to me that all the agricultural people can do here is have a wait and see attitude. Well, considering the warm weather the front range has been experiencing lately, I shudder to think of the possibility of a repeat summer. My friend who lives south of Durango works for his dad on a good old fashioned working ranch (yes, there are still a few of them left in La Plata county, they're a mile away from Bondad). I remember him telling me about some of the costs of doing business, and one item got my attention from him. He told me the cost of hay was coming in at $250 a ton.
Time to buy futures on hay

But seriously, though, predicting long term weather is like predicting the stock market. I mean, weather is just going to do what it's going to do, it could end up being the complete opposite of what's expected. Particularly in the southwest climates which have so much variability from one year to the next

i wouldn't worry about it
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:24 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,567,489 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whirnot View Post
The current snow packs are not good. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but So far it looks rough. I have lived in eastern Colorado or the front range for about 40 years and my perception is droughts are much more common and severe than they used to be. You have to remember Eastern Colorado is an arid climate, but serious water problems are much more common.

That and the runup of all Farm commodity prices are probably a double edge sword to ranching.
Colorado went through much worse in the 1930's on the prairie in regards to hot and dry weather. Whole towns got ruined and they've never really come back the way they used to be.

People will adapt and overcome like they always have, or they will change businesses.
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,802 posts, read 9,467,884 times
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well our perception of these things is hugely limited. The weather patterns of a few decades is not necessarily indicative of "normal" weather. We simply don't have the collective memory to know what's "normal." Good weather records only date back to the late 1800s.

Take a case in point of the Anasazi in New Mexico who had a thriving culture at Chaco canyon. Then, they "disappeared", which really means they probably moved elsewhere when a severe drought hit the region. Maybe it was more severe than anything we've experienced in the past several generations.

Just saying that in weather, there's small patterns and there's larger timeframe patterns and we really don't have the macroscopic scale to know which patterns we are in at the moment. Something that seems abnormally dry to us now, might actually not be that bad compared to how things were a couple hundred years ago. It could be, in fact, that the 20th century was a relatively "wet" period for the southwest, in the grand scheme of things .... who knows ....

but, as someone else said, the fact is we humans are adaptable and will make changes to our lifestyle as necessary ...
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:57 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 6,035,979 times
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Wink Weather realities

This could be the year that Colorado water realities are made abundantly clear to everyone.

With reservoirs as low, municipalities such as Denver may have no choice but to institute various water rationing restrictions. This could translate into agriculture getting shorted; there is already a growing trend of water rights transferring from agriculture to municipal users, but perhaps that made starkly clear now.

So far north central Colorado seems to have received even less precipitation than last years lackluster winter. The rivers are already down and seem certain to have even less water volume this next summer. January here has often seemed more like April or May, and as warm with what snow there is melting. There has not been one truly solid snow storm thus far this winter.

Hopefully Mother Nature will commiserate and at least bestow a wealth of snow come late winter and spring. But according to such as the National Weather Service that is not in the cards, with expected ongoing drought throughout Colorado and this greater region through the end of March. Moreover, any of this should be considered in light of long range projections for the Southwest, which indicate this, and worse, is actually what one might expect on average.

The Upper Colorado Basin Snowpack is currently at 80.61% of normal. And that represents a recent uptick, as but a few days ago at about 70% and declining. So far on average it has charted below the levels of 2011/2012:

Upper Colorado River Snowpack Database
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