Higher rain totals create different challenges for farmers

Posted at: 08/04/2014 5:40 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

You would think New Mexico farmers would be pretty happy with all of the rainfall we’ve been getting – but think again.

It’s a case of too much too soon.

The Rio Grande at the San Acacia Diversion Dam was running at about 1650 cubic feet per second at mid-day Monday, and that was down some from the flow over the weekend.

The river is simply churning with all that rain that fell in the watershed upstream.

Irrigation ditches are full.

Trouble is , many farmers can’t use the water.

It’s too muddy, too full of silt. Irrigate with it and you’ll suffocate your crops. The stuff dries like slick adobe.

Corky Herkenhoff doesn’t need it.

He’s got another problem in his alfalfa fields.

"After Monday they said there was zero chance of rain,” the San Acacia hay grower said while walking through a field of newly-cut hay. "Well, everybody in the Valley ran out and cut the hay and then it rained for the next six days or something.”

Rain turns hay that’s been cut into something that looks more like seaweed. Slimy. Turning black. Disintegrating when it finally dries out. Not good for much.

"We cut 50 or 70 acres a day and then the sme thing the next day and the same thing the next day,” Herkenhoff said. "So we wound up with about 200 acres of hay like this.”

If some of it can be salvaged, Herkenhoff is looking at a loss of about $40,000.

Not everybody is unhappy in that central stretch of the Rio Grande, though.

They say the catfish are biting.