With different crops having different water needs, Utah’s drought may seem like a maze to figure out. But farmers got creative with how they cultivated their crops.
At a fundamental level, plants only need two things: water and sunlight. But in a drought, where the sun’s too hot and there’s not enough water, local farmers found ways to water their stock both economically and ecologically.
According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, Utah County is experiencing the highest levels of drought. This led farmers to approach this year’s harvest differently.
Tim Crandall is the owner of Crandall’s Fruit Farms. For him, preparation for the drought began last year.
“Especially last fall when we knew how dry it was, we knew this year would be a challenging year,” Crandall said.
He took precautions like renting additional water, using a soil moisture sensor and removing weeds from his rows. All of these steps ensured the right amount of water got to the right places when needed.
And it paid off. Not only did he grow the same amount and quality of produce as years past, he also conserved water.
“We saved about a third to a fourth of the water that we usually use,” Crandall said.
At Wilkerson Farm, various crops strewn over 20 acres of land needed to be watered in a variety of ways. Jared Bucknum worked on the farm over the summer and said during the crop season water usage was strictly monitored.
“We definitely had to pertain to the watering schedule a lot more than we did before,” Bucknum said.
According to Rachel Wilkerson, the farm’s retail director, crops like corn that needed to be flooded were more difficult to work in the drought, while those that used a drip line still thrived.
Though lettuce, green beans and peas died out early in the heat, other produce like tomatoes found the higher temperatures helpful.
As the weather cooled down and this year’s harvest began to wrap up, one thing remained certain amongst Utah farmers: the more prepared a farmer is to conserve water, the better off the crops will be.
Seasonal produce can be found around Utah County at local farm stands.