New Mexico

Heavy monsoon rains mixed blessing for NM farmers

Rains mixed blessing for farmers

LA MESA, New Mexico - As rain pounds the borderland this monsoon season, farmers are enjoying and dreading the consequences.
For some crops the monsoon moisture has been a blessing

“We’re standing here in corn that’s probably ten foot tall. And we’ve had three good irrigations on this, then monsoon season kicked in and it’s actually done all the irrigation for us,” said Jay Hill, owner of La Mesa New Mexico’s Wholesome Valley Farms.

It normally takes corn eight irrigations to reach that height, the extra water has been pushing it along. Pecans are in the same boat, absorbing all the water they can and producing more nuts.

“Free water is good water,” Hill said.

While the heavy rains New Mexico has seen recently have helped some crops like corn grow taller faster, it’s also making it more difficult to get the water-saturated soil ready for future crops.

“You let it dry for a couple of days and then we’ll get back in there with another piece of equipment and we’ll try to break it down even more, but once it comes to planting, you’re planting small seeds and these small clods makes it extremely tough,” Hill explained.

The rains, muddy ground, and compacted soil have set some scheduled crops back for months. Carrot seed was barely harvested when it should have been done weeks ago, the lettuce and cabbage planting window has already been lost this season.
Hill said if the soil can’t be prepared in time, onions could follow.

“If we continue to see these heavy rains come through and dump the amount of rain we’ve had, you could see us not even plant these crops,” he explained.

“It’s extremely critical that we get all these crops planted in the next 30-45 day window, or you’re not gonna see a lot of the local produce you've come to find in the grocery store there any more.”

Hill told ABC-7 if the dry conditions keep into next week they could be working up to a 100 hour week, using the small window they hope to count on.

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