The rain finally came

Craig gets showers, but farmers say it's too late

After nearly two months without any significant rainfall, local farmers say they appreciated the weekend's precipitation, but it is likely too late to benefit this season's wheat crop.

Graham Roberts, Craig's official weather observer for the National Weather Service, reports that Craig received 0.36 inches of precipitation between 7 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Monday. He said 2006 is shaping up to be a dryer than normal year.

"It has been a long time since we received any significant precipitation. The last time was on June 10, when we received about a quarter inch of rainfall," Roberts said. "All of June we were in the 80s nearly every day. That made the last month a fairly warm and dry period."

Roberts said last year the months of June and July each received about an inch of rain, and by this time in 2005, Craig was at 11 inches of total precipitation for the year.

The rainfall figure for this year is at 6.46 inches.

Wheat farmers appreciated the rainfall over the weekend, but say it won't help the crop already affected by the dry spring and summer.

"It's really too late to help the wheat," said Jerry Thompson, who farms 400 acres of winter wheat. "If it had come 30 days ago, we would have had a 50 percent better crop."

Thompson said the lack of moisture has already caused this year's crop of winter wheat to grow shorter plants, which will ripen early with shorter heads.

Any wheat plants that still have green heads will fill out better, he said, but this rain just came too late.

"We take it when we can get it," Thompson said. "Rain in this country is always a benefit."

Gordon Grandbouche, owner of Craig Grain Company, agrees with Thompson. He said the weekend rain helped the pastures and spring grains, as well as keeping the pests away from the winter wheat.

"When you live in the desert, any rain is good," Grandbouche said. "It refreshes everything."

Grandbouche said that a negative effect might have been felt by farmers or ranchers that had their hay cut, but still in the field.

"If the hay is down, it's bad. You've got to dry it before you can bale it," he said. "Sometimes you have to turn it to get it dry. If it's light hay it might dry up on its own."

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