Region's Barley Farmers Face 'Crop Disaster'

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It turns out that the same recent rains that kept the region's wildfires at bay have also caused significant ruin to some of the region's crops.

In fact, this week's Idaho Mountain Express reports that Blaine County farmers face a "crop disaster" after seeing their grains and hay decimated by downpours. Two weeks of rains in July triggered some kernels to begin germinating, making the grain unusable for malting by beer brewers, according to the paper. 

"We in Blaine County are sitting on pins and needles right now," farmer Pepin Corso-Harris told the Mountain Express

The region's largest buyer—MillerCoors—traditionally pays about $13 per hundredweight for barley. But if the barley is no good for brewing, it will probably have to be sold as feed grain, which goes for only $6 per hundredweight.

Blaine County farmers plant approximately 13,000 acres of barley.

Another big problem caused by the rain has been wet hay.

"The rain has bleached out the nutrients, microbes have eaten the nutrients and mold has started to grow," hay buyer Scott Jackson told the Mountain Express. "It degrades the hay to the point that it won't be used for milk cows for sure, and it might not be usable for feed at all. You can have a total loss of the crop, when it costs you more to put it up than you're making."