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Flooding Damages Scio Farmers’ Fields

February 5, 2012

By Heather Turner

SCIO, Ore. — The rain has stopped, the floods receded, but now many farmers have to deal with the aftermath.

In Scio, farmers there were among the hardest hit.

Usually the hazelnut orchard at Jason Whitehead Farms would be clear and the ground would be flat, but after all of the recent flooding, the river brought in silt, rocks and debris, damaging several hundred trees.

“I usually get a little bit of water in here every year but it doesn’t do this kind of damage,” said Jason Whitehead.

When Thomas Creek flooded, it cut through Jason Whitehead’s grass seed fields, destroying nearly five acres.

“You can see all of the logs and all of the damage from the force of the water,” Whitehead said.

That force swept very large trees onto his fields and hazelnut orchard.

“There’s some big stumps and logs, and it took some of them out in the orchard, and they’re only three-years-old so those four-foot diameter trees just kind of flattened them,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead salvaged what he could, standing some hazelnut trees back up in their place, but now he has the task of clearing out the ground.

“Filberts are harvest off the ground, and the way they’re harvested would pick up all of those rocks and put them in the totes so we’re going to have to go out there and pick up all the rocks and get the floor clean again,” Whitehead said.

At a time when he should be focusing on his farming, instead, Whitehead has to deal with the cleanup.

Whitehead says it’ll be a lot of work, but he hopes to have the fields cleared by June, before the harvest season begins.

On the other side of Scio, a local sheep farmer is also dealing with the aftermath.  The flooding shocked Wolston Farms’ grazing grass.

“Even after the water’s gone it takes time to recover for a little oxygen to get back into the ground, so what that means for us is that we’ve got less grass than we would and so we have to buy more feed than we would usually buy,” said Wolston Farms Owner Ian Caldicott.

The grass that is left isn’t as healthy as livestock needs to be.

“Most of these ewes behind me are pregnant, there’s not enough nutrition in the grass that there is here so we need to supplement it to give them enough energy for them to have their lambs,” Caldicott said.

Wolston Farm owners are now looking to buy more grain pellets than normal this year to feed their sheep.

They say the grass will take about a month to recover, but exactly how long will depend on the weather.

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