Farmers receive relief from rainfall, canals

Thomas Garcia

Restoration of the Arch Hurley irrigation canals, recent rains and cooler temperatures bring relief for area farmers.

Members of the Arch Hurley conservancy District began to receive water from irrigation canals on June 15 after two years of having no water allocations.

“Rainfall and snowpack melt fed into the Conchas Lake allowing use to draw water for irrigation,” said Arch Hurley District Manager Franklin McCasland.

McCasland said the water will continue to flow in the canals as long as the levels of the lake will permit.

“I was happy to see water flowing in those canals,” said Jack Smith, owner of Liberty Farms.

Smith began looking for a different water source two years ago when the canals had run dry. He began purchasing water from the city of Tucumcari to continue his irrigation for his crops.

“Last year was rough,” Smith said. “I was able to harvest a third of the alfalfa crop I normal harvest in years past.”

Smith said last year his average alfalfa cutting was 200 bales. He said the 2009 harvest was not more than 1,000 bales.

“With the combination of city, Arch Hurley and rain water I have cut 400 bales so far,” Smith said. “That is half of what I produced last year.”

The current rainfall totals for June are 1.82 inches which is one inch above last years .82 totals said Todd Shoemake, meteorologist National Weather Services Albuquerque.

Shoemake said several episodes of severe weather that developed in the west moved into our area increasing the chance for moisture.

“There is still a chance for more rain moving in from the south for the remainder of the month into the first week of July,” Shoemake said.

Shoemake said the temperatures for the rest of the week should remain in the high 80’s to low 90’s.

“By next week we will begin to see the normal temperatures of 91 degrees in the Tucumcari area,” Shoemake said.

However the weather at the start of June had a bleak outlook for area ranchers.

Shoemake said a dome of high pressure sat over eastern New Mexico raising temperatures. He said there were 22 days in June where the temperatures was in the high 90’s

“Eleven of those 22 days had temperatures in the triple digits,” Shoemake said. “These temperatures were well over the normal of 91 degrees for the month of June.”

Shoemake said six days spanning June 4 through the June 10 had triple digit heats. He said a stretch of triple digit heat ran from June 17-22.

“In 2009 their were 20 days where the temperatures were in the 90’s but there were no triple digit days,” Shoemake said.

Smith said in May he used 8.6 acre feet of city water and in June he has used 10 acre feet of Arch Hurley water. He said he will continue to use both sources to irrigate his 200 acres of alfalfa until September, the final harvest.

“I’d like to have water available right through my winter crop but we will see how that goes,” Smith said. “I’d be tickled to death to see this kind of weather and moisture continue.”