UI Extension programs bring university research to local producers through applied research field studies. A variety of field studies have been conducted on the Camas Prairie.
Cereal grains are planted in the spring on the Camas Prairie. Winter grains are generally not planted, partially because of snow mold, but mostly due to winter kill. Grains, for the most part, are grown only as a rotation for alfalfa.
Many different soil types are found across the prairie. A challenge to growers is the multiple soil types which can be found within a single field, making planting difficult due to the amount of moisture in the soil (wet spots). It also makes harvesting difficult due to plants being at different maturities.
Many growers wait until they can plant the wet spots located in the field, which may be 1-3 weeks later than the optimum time. Timing is critical in a dry land situation, especially in drought conditions. Knowing these environmental limitations, growers must know which varieties will produce better under these diverse growing conditions.
- Barley yields average 24bu/acre, dryland and 67bu/acre irrigated
- Wheat yields average 26bu/acre dryland and 53bu/acre irrigated
Camas County has a semiarid climate with a mean annual precipitation ranging from 15.7 inches on the central valley floor to more than 25 inches on the higher mountains. Precipitation is mainly in the form of snow. Understanding how to manage production efforts under these conditions is important.
Funded by a four-year USDA grant, these field studies are a combined effort of Washington State University, Oregon State University and the University of Idaho. There are two dryland organic sites in Idaho, one in Camas County and one in Blaine County.
Dairy compost is applied in the fall in a replicated large scale plot design. Soil nutrient mineralization (of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) is monitored over the growing season. Crop quality and yield are collected.
Farming with limited rain fall is a challenge. Explore these resources.
Large machines and animals are found on the farm. Being safe is important for youth and adults.
One of the major challenges of growing crops in Camas County is the high elevation, which shortens the growing season to 60-80 days. Working under these conditions and Mother Nature’s temperatures, limited rainfall and winds can be a test of management skills for growers.
Alfalfa hay is the primary crop grown in Camas County. Many producers grow certified organic hay and grain. Production is either irrigated or non-irrigated, with the majority (87 percent) being non-irrigated. Most producers who irrigate use supplemental irrigation.
Farmers harvest 1-2 cuttings of hay per year, averaging 1-2 ton/acre for dryland hay and 2-3 ton/acre for irrigated hay. Total hay tonnage exported from the county each year averages around 110,000 tons. Some hay is certified organic, giving growers an added challenge of reducing weeds, disease and insects within the framework of organic production requirements.
- Proper Sampling (Coring) of Hay Bales and Stacks (CIS 1178)
- Idaho Forage Handbook (BUL 547)
- Cold Temperatures and Alfalfa
- Parameters for Good Quality Alfalfa Hay (PDF)
- Kimberly Research and Extension Center — Forage
The majority of pastures in Camas County are used as summer pastures by livestock producers from other counties. The U.S. Forest Service permits 16 different livestock owners to graze their animals on national forest land within Camas County. Their areas are considered summer livestock range and consist of 14 cow/calf permits along with four ewe/lamb permits. The grazing season ranges from June 1 to Oct. 15. There are seven cattle allotments and 27 sheep allotments with approximately 14,000 and 30,000 animal unit months of permitted use respectively.
- Summer Alternate Forage Production (PDF)
- Growing and Utilizing Turnips as Forages (PDF)
- Corn, Sorghum, Sudangrass and BMR Hybrid Forages (PDF)
- UI Extension publications catalog — forages
- UI Beef Research and Extension
- WSU Extension Forages
- Kimberly Research and Extension Center —Forage
- Getting the Most Feed Nutrient for the Dollar (CIS 1201)
- Minimizing the Prussic Acid Poisoning Hazard in Forages
- Prussic Acid Poisoning (Stoltenow and Lardy)
- Prussic Acid Poisoning (Strickland et al.) (PDF)
Camas County soils fall into seven classifications according to the Soil Conservation Service. The three main groups are wetland soils, Manard and Magic and Simonton-Brinegar.
How to take a soil sample:
- Take at least six randomly spaced samples.
- Sample to a depth of 8-12 inches.
- A clean shovel or soil probe may be used to acquire the samples. Tools should be stainless steel or aluminum alloy. No iron.
- Place samples in a clean plastic bucket. Never use a bucket that has been used to store or transport fertilizer materials.
- Mix the samples thoroughly and bring a composite sample of one pint (2 cups) soil to the UI Extension, Camas County.
- If the sample must be kept overnight before bringing it in, place the sample in the refrigerator.
Noxious weeds, especially diffuse and spotted knapweeds, have infested the county. Control of these weeds and others is difficult because land ownership is so diverse. Some private landowners are absentee landowners and this makes weed management efforts very difficult for neighbors. An additional challenge for weed managers is the fact that many growers are raising organic crops.
The Camas Creek Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) was established in Camas County to control the spread of noxious weeds present in the area, to prevent the invasion of new weeds and to coordinate the control efforts of multiple landowners.
Five noxious weeds have been targeted by the CWMA:
- Rush skeleton weed
- Spotted knapweed
- Diffuse knapweed
- Leafy spurge
- White top
Camas County also has a biological control project for knapweed which started through the local soil conservation district and UI Extension office. It is now administered through the Wood River RC&D. This project involves youth from the local school district who gather, release and monitor insects at different sites across the Camas Prairie.