Legendary Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan famously sang that he “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.”
Here in Oregon, enduring the weather is one thing. As I suspect they do in Texas, we’re just trying to figure out what’s going on from one moment to the next.
While the rest of the United States was suffering under the yoke of a polar vortex, Western Oregon enjoyed the mildest January in recent memory. We had many sunny days and nary a frost to be found. Our plants were waking up from dormancy earlier than normal — even earlier than the mildest winters.
Of course, this was followed by February snowfalls, rain and cold. While not as bad as advertised, they surely sent our plants mixed signals.
As always, it seems like the weather does what it wants, when it wants — here and elsewhere — no matter what anyone might think about it. That’s the weather’s prerogative, but some consistency and predictability would be nice.
It’s difficult to start running irrigation lines in the field, only to look up at the mountains and see very little snow. One starts to wonder:
“Will we have enough water to get through this coming season?”
They say that “water is life,” and it’s doubly true in our line of work. We must do everything we possibly can to manage this resource to our best ability. That begins, but doesn’t end, with investing in technologies that reduce our water needs.
We also need the state’s assistance. There are many water users, from agriculture to municipalities to the interest groups that urge stewardship over our fisheries and natural resources. All of them have a stake in properly developing and maintaining our water supplies so they don’t evaporate into thin air.
This is a call out to our membership: please help support the OAN’s efforts on this front. We need you to get involved. I don’t have to tell you what will happen if our industry’s access to water is compromised.
It’s important we be heard by the public. We must educate people on how we use water and why it is so critical to what we do. Many people have lost a connection to agriculture. They don’t understand what it takes to grow a plant because it’s not part of their daily life.
Academia can also help us. We need their continued efforts to study the effective irrigation of plants. We need advanced devices that give us real-time information on crop inputs, and the knowledge of how to use them. I’m a big believer in such systems. I’ve seen the results. Through the use of advanced sensors, we can better understand how much water a plant needs. We can manage and adjust fertilizer to meet the specific needs of the plant. We can use only the inputs the plant needs, thereby reducing waste.
As you start to plan out this season, keep in mind that the OAN is doing its best to maintain your seat at the table where decisions get made. We can only do this with your help. If you haven’t renewed your membership, please do so, and while you’re at it, please donate to our political or scholarship funds.
Most importantly, we need your voice. Oregon is a great place to grow plants. We need to keep it that way. And to do that, we need you.