Crop progress report for March 2019: Warmer days bring melting snow, some field work


Snowy days gave way to warmer conditions and melting snow in much of Washington. Fields in western Washington started to dry out, and field work started. Most fall-planted crops around the Puget Sound survived the winter in good condition while spring crops had not yet been planted. Grass was green and growing. Vegetable growers were tilling fields and getting ready for spring planting. The warm weather was favorable for lambs and calves. Livestock were still on stored feed and soil temperatures were low on the Peninsula.

Southwestern Washington was unseasonably warm and dry. Many ditches and wet spots dried out. There were three field fires in Lewis County and another three field fires in Grays Harbor County. Several apiaries in Cowlitz, Clark and Skamania counties reported colony collapse up to 70 percent of total hives. Fall-planted triticale was in good condition. Raspberries in Whatcom County had some crop damage due to freezing temperatures in February, but the extent of damage was unknown until warmer temperatures occur. Greenhouse starts and tulips were the first crops for farmers’ market in Jefferson County. Most CSA operations started seed flats and hardy early spring vegetables were planted in high tunnels. Skagit County was extraordinarily warm and dry. Propagation houses in Snohomish County were crammed with starts waiting for suitable field conditions to transplant. Most pastures in the county recovered from the heavy snow cover.

Warmer temperatures in Benton and Franklin counties led to quick snow melts. Early vegetable plantings were delayed one month. Cropland in Chelan and Douglas counties was still under snow. Calving continued, however several losses were reported due to harsh weather conditions. Most of the winter wheat was under snow cover, but some green wheat was seen around field edges.

The eastern side of Klickitat County was dry while Klickitat Valley had snow. Pastures were not ready, leading ranchers to forage for more hay. There were localized floods in Yakima County, but no crops were impacted. Pruning and tree training activities were underway. Temperatures in Stevens County fluctuated between 60 degree days and freezing nights after a cold March.

Snow melted throughout northeastern Washington, while wheat and fall grain crops emerged through the remaining snow cover. There were reports of winter kill due to temperature variations and loss of snow cover on hilltops. Calving issues were also reported due to the two winter storms in February. Winter wheat in Adams County was in good condition with limited damage. The Palouse was wet, and snow still covered the ground.