Crop progress report 0226: Winter storms wreak havoc on parts of Washington


Heavy, wet snow hit western Washington in early February. Lewis County had several outbuildings collapse, including a dairy barn and two empty poultry buildings. Calving started, however, many producers had trouble sourcing hay for their livestock. Producers were concerned about seed crops in Skagit and Island counties.

Jefferson County had saturated ground and pastures leading to poor rangeland. Indoor greenhouse seeding began. Most early season plant life budded out in San Juan County. The cold and wet temperatures damaged some winter crops in Skagit County. Snohomish County had many vegetable farmers harvest past their regular window due to the mild temperatures earlier in the season. The February snow storm collapsed high tunnels, greenhouses, sheds and barns in Snohomish and King counties.

Benton County reported 30 foot drifts from the snow with freezing temperatures to cement them. Spring wheat planting was delayed. Calving began in Chelan County, with minimal calf deaths reported. Temperatures with wind chill in Okanogan and Ferry counties were not above -20 degrees F for three consecutive days. Canola and wheat crops died as winds blew snow cover off of fields.

Ranches in Klickitat County had difficulty keeping calves alive in the snowstorm. Yakima County was mostly spared from the snow with only 1.25 inches of snowfall. However, sustained winds from the storm caused more than 1,000 dairy cows to die. There were isolated reports of bud damage in some peach and nectarine orchards.

Stevens County had single digit and negative temperatures for the first part of February, followed by a foot of snow. Higher-than-average winds caused cover to be removed from fall planted grains in Pend Oreille and Spokane counties; some winter kill on fall grains was reported. Calving issues also ensued due to the inclement weather.

Columbia County had slow winter wheat emergence and progress. Livestock were under stress and feed stocks were running low.

Winter wheat in Whitman County was in good condition. The warm and wet fall and early winter helped emergence. Late seeded crops had some winter damage. Spring seeding was delayed. Some livestock producers lost calves.