Some Fields Doing Better Than Expected Without Irrigation, Some Not

Some Fields Doing Better Than Expected Without Irrigation, Some Not

Two-week time-lapse photos in fields without a source of irrigation water due to the canal damage and shut-off.

Thomas reported: I have continued to be surprised as to how good these crops look. In some fields corn is putting on ears and soybeans are putting on pods. This year we started the season with a full soil water profile and corn is still able to reach water. I had expected the time-lapse video to document crops burning up under hot sunny days and dying, but they're hanging on. Cooler temperatures, high humidity and some timely rains -- this week 1.5 inches -- have benefited crops in parts of the affected area. While crops in this area are likely to take a yield hit, they may not be a total loss.

Time-lapse photos of a corn field in Scotts Bluff County, NE, affected by the July 17 failure of the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation Canal and tunnel. The camera was set up by Nebraska Extension Educator John Thomas. Thomas reported: This corn was irrigated once before the canal failure on July 17. The time lapse video is from July 25-August 7. Note tasseling beginning about Aug. 2. Also note some slight curling in the afternoon heat. Until this point there has been about 0.22 inches of rain since the canal failure. The corn is doing better than I anticipated. The next round of time-lapse photos will be published next week.
Time-lapse video of dry edible beans in the South Mitchell Valley in the area with no irrigation since July 17 due to the canal failure. The camera was set up by Nebraska Extension Educator John Thomas. He reported: These beans received no irrigation this season and have gotten only 0.22 inches of rain since the canal failed. The time lapse video is from July 25- Aug. 7. A few lower leaves have turned brown but the beans have bloomed and are setting pods. These beans are doing better than I anticipated. We have had cooler than normal temperatures and high humidity.
Time-lapse video of sugar beet field in the South Mitchell Valley in Scotts Bluff County, in the area with no irrigation since July 17, 2019, due to the canal failure. The camera was set up by Nebraska Extension Educator John Thomas. Thomas reported: "These beets received one irrigation this season before the canal failure and have gotten .22 inches of rain. The time lapse video is from July 25-Aug. 7. A few lower leaves have turned brown and the beets aren’t as full and lush as the irrigated beets. These beets are doing better than I anticipated. We have had cooler than normal temperatures and high humidity. This farm is within the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District."

Fields that were planted early and received an irrigation before they lost their water source July 17 are showing an advantage, as depicted in the time-lapse videos and this tweet from Extension Entomologist Jeff Bradshaw at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. He toured several fields in the affected area this week to see how crops were faring. Some fields are doing better than others.

Stay informed on progress of canal/tunnel repairs at go.unl.edu/canal and in CropWatch at cropwatch.unl.edu/tags/canal-irrigation