Radio Script 01-07-20

Winter isn’t all work and no play.

Here in the Four Corners Region, farmers and ranchers keep an eye on moisture, both in the soil and in the mountain snow pack. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that all of the Region is in severe drought, and the Four states have abnormally dry to severe drought over more than half of their land mass. However, at this point in time, the NRCS Snotel Update Report indicates that the Upper Colorado River Basin has 118% of normal snow pack, measured in snow water content, with the Dolores watershed at 126% of normal, the Animas is 121%, the San Juan is 111% and Southeast Utah is a great 176% of normal. Farmers wonder, will it last? National Weather Service 90 day forecast predicts that the Region will have below normal to normal temperatures and average precipitation, Generally, winter weather in the western U. S. is influenced by weather patterns generated by El Niño, the cooling phase or La Niña, the warming phase of sea temperatures across the tropical Pacific. When active, these patterns send regular train loads of moisture-laden storms across the United States, dropping snow in the Rockies, providing most of our annual precipitation in the winter. When these patterns are in neutral, as they are this winter, the trains don’t run as often, and predicting their schedules is harder.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has a new Hemp Online Portal, to help growers more easily and quickly apply and pay for an application to grow hemp. By applying on line, growers applications willreportadly be reviewed more quickly. Brian Koontz, Hemp Program Manager, reports that over the five years the program has been in place, the number of applications has at least doubled. Currently, Colorado has almost 2,650 applications filed for growing hemp. The 14 page application has very specific requirements on how a grower maps his or her land. In addition, the grower must submit planting and harvest reports. The Hemp Online Portal, is on the Department of Agriculture’s website.

The USDA is collecting data for a special study called the 2019 Census of Horticulture. The definition of Horticulture is the art and science of growing and handling fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, flowers, foliage plants, woody ornamentals, and turf. The survey takes place every five years following the Census of Agriculture. The deadline to return the Census of Horticulture is February 5th 2020, and the results will be compiled and released next December.

A recent USDA Oilseeds and Products Update Brazil Report states that Brazil is forecast to overtake the United States as the leading soybean producer in the world during the 2019/2020 growing season. The report estimates that Brazilian growers will plant about 91 million acres of soybeans during this growing season, which includes double crops in some areas of Brazil. Production is forecast at 123.5 million metric tons, based on trend yields. This year’s U.S. soybean harvest is expected to drop by nearly 20 percent from the previous year, to less than 100 million metric tons. Ag economists are concerned that if farmers continue to plant corn and soybean crops, expecting to get trade mitigation payments to prop up their income, world prices of these commodities will continue to decline as the supplies of corn and soybeans increase.

American media mogul Rupert Murdoch is quoted saying, “I’m not an economist and we all know economists were created to make weather forecasters look good. “

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