Drought affects San Luis Valley growers

09/12/2013 12:23:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Potatoes are more of a cash crop, and growers have often shaped their entire operations around that harvest.

“They’ve built their operations around the volume of potatoes they generally grow each year, so reducing that acreage is a big challenge,” Ellithorpe said.

Instead, Ellithorpe says growers try to rotate crops and cut other, less profitable commodities.

Les Alderete, general manager at Center-based Skyline Potato Co., agreed.

“Water will play a major role in next year’s plantings,” he said.

In addition, the region has created a water subdistrict, which is attempting to address the problem by retiring irrigated acreage in the area to balance water pumping with water recharge from snowpack, Ehrlich said.

“The subdistrict has created a pool of money by taxing growers for their water usage and in turn using this money to incentivize land retirement and less pumping,” he said.

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