Going to bed last night, we were treated to the soft pattering of rain on our rooftops and the weatherman promised more to come on the 11 o’clock news. This morning, we awoke to find the Klamath Basin covered in three inches of snow. All of this precipitation is on the heels of talks about the impending drought. Welcome to springtime in the Klamath Basin.
There is a drought headed our way this summer, and due to politics and policies, there is a chance that in some areas of the Basin irrigation will be halted mid-season. Some potato production ground will be idled as well. However, Walker Brothers will be growing chipping potatoes and Gold Dust will be processing those potatoes this fall.
Several irrigation districts service the Klamath Basin, which includes Klamath County in Oregon and Modoc and Siskiyou counties in California. One of the irrigation districts Walker Brothers relies on is the Tulelake Irrigation District, or TID. The nice thing with being a part of TID is they have five incredibly large wells along with several private wells to help keep folks inside their irrigation district farming as usual. While they still have to plan for the potential shortcoming of water, the Tulelake Irrigation District has tools at their disposal to help dampen the blow from the drought.
Gold Dust and Walker Brothers also had the foresight to secure several hundred acres of land irrigated by private wells to make up the difference between the acres we normally farm and what we expect we’ll need to fill our contracts. So, regardless of what the rumors are, we plan on meeting the obligations of our contracts with our customers.
It will be a long, hot summer here in the Basin, and please don’t take this discussion as an attempt to dismiss or downplay the drought. We are optimistic the wet spring we’re having is building up the snow pack we’ll need later this season and filling Klamath Lake so farmers will be able to farm as close to normal as possible. What we want our customers to know is we have made the necessary arrangements to grow the number of chipping potatoes forecasted to fill our contracts, and we plan to do so. With 30 years of farming in the Klamath Basin under our belt, while this may be a nuisance, we’ve done it before and will likely do it again.
While we have your attention, we’d also like to thank the Tulelake Irrigation District board members and the Klamath Irrigation District (KID) board members for their hard work during these trying times. We appreciate the outreach and public forums they’ve provided Basin irrigators as well as their continued vigilance in providing water for all irrigators – both large and small. Thank you for your time, commitment and hard work.