Farmers gear up for the start of irrigation season | KOB 4

Farmers gear up for the start of irrigation season

Brett Luna
Created: March 09, 2020 06:42 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—With the official start of spring right around the corner, farmers are beginning to gear up for irrigation season.

“Well the irrigation is everything in this valley. It’s like the blood in your body. Without it you’re nothing,” said Glenn Duggins, a chile farmer in Socorro County.

For many New Mexicans, farming is a way of life, but it is also a gamble every year.

“It hailed on my farm and wiped us out,” Duggins said.

Much of farming is dependent on weather conditions.

“I always get asked when I go to town, ‘Aren’t you glad it rained?’ Well, no not really. You know that rain just cost me $50,000,” Duggins said.

Duggins said for farmers in the valley, rain can actually be a bad thing because the timing of it can’t be controlled, unlike irrigation.

"Irrigation is critical for our farmers. Here in the desert southwest essentially nothing grows with the rain we get,” said David Gensler, water operations manager for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Of course, Duggins said not all rain is bad. It just depends on where it falls.

"We like the rain and we like the snow, but we like it in the mountains,” Duggins said.

That rain and snow will eventually end up in the irrigation canals. Irrigation seasons began on March 2. and will continue through the growing season.

Although the runoff forecast is down compared to last year, it’s not too big of an issue.

"Our reservoir right now can strain on storage so even if we had a big runoff we wouldn’t be able to store it this year,” Gensler said

Last year was an above average year for runoff, which provided plenty of irrigation water.

"We were fine last year. We’ll get by this year again," Duggins said.

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